For an elite player, Mathew Barzal, of the New York Islanders, flew under the main radar for a while until this 2018-2019 season. As a player, Barzal is a fantastic puck carrier and has an extremely high hockey IQ. He’s the player that is finding the alley ways to pass more often than shoot, but when he does it’s a deadly shot. On to of that, he’s a two-way player who is pulling himself and his teammates into the Stanley Cup conversation.
Barzal was drafted 16th overall by the Islanders back in 2015. His official rookie season was last year where in 82 games, Barzal scored 22 goals and gave a whopping 63 assists with a +1 rating. In his performance, Barzal scooped up the Calder trophy at the end of the season.
Coming off his Calder win last season, Barzal has been an influential part of the Islanders surprising season, scoring 14 goals and collecting 31 assists in 49 games. His rating sits at a -4 but he’s currently leading the team in points (45) and assists (3rd in goals).
In the first 11 games of the year, Barzal has 4 goals and 5 assists with a +1 rating, helping push the Islanders into 1st place of the Metropolitan Division. The NHL was astonished that this team was able to gain first place, especially after they lost their captain this past off-season.
Following the All-Star game, Barzal isn’t going to be hiding in the shadows anymore. Barzal astonished people with his speed in the Fastest Skater competition but he was even more amazed with Kendall Coyne’s preformance in the competition. But Mathew really pulled the media’s attention to how awesome his game play and scoring ability is, especially playing on a line with Sidney Crosby and Kris Letang of the Pittsburgh Penguins. This line had instant chemistry and three of them were unstoppable. Barzal was able to scoop in 2 goals and 3 assists in the final game alone.
Barzal has shown the NHL that the Islanders are a team that is on a serious run for playoff contention. According to Micah Blake McCurdy on Twitter, there’s a 87% chance of the Islanders making playoffs, which is a drastic improvement from where they have been this season.
Overall, Barzal has done wonders for the New York Islanders and the best part is that he’s just getting started. He’s in his sophomore season and is playing with some other big players like Jordan Eberle and Anthony Beauvillier, so the future is looking bright for the Islanders.
Featured Image: SNY