New York Islanders' Mathew Barzal Proving To Be a Difference-Maker
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 25: Mathew Barzal #13 (R) of the New York Islanders celebrates his powerplay goal at 14:15 of the first period against the New Jersey Devils and is joined by John Tavares #91 (L) during a preseason game at the Barclays Center on September 25, 2017 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Mathew Barzal‘s emergence, coupled with his potential to improve, has the New York Islanders excited about the NHL’s next dynamic duo.

With duos such as Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin approaching their “peak” years, it’s time for a new era of duos in the NHL, and Mathew Barzal has the potential to compliment John Tavares as the New York Islanders’ powerful answer to a hole left by Frans Nielsen’s departure.

Straight from new head coach Doug Weight‘s mouth, it appears that Barzal is close to, if not a lock for the opening night roster.

When Barzal was drafted 16th overall in 2015, he was praised for having speed, great vision and an ability to finish. He put all of his skills on display during his highlight-reel goal in a 3-0 preseason win against the New Jersey Devils.

With Barzal emerging as an offensive threat, many are beginning to believe that if he continues to perform at such a high level, he could usurp the second-line center role from Brock Nelson.

Since Jordan Eberle arrived on the Island earlier this offseason, the issue of Tavares’ missing wing was resolved. Over the last two seasons, however, the Islanders’ attempt to find a solid second option to slot in behind Tavares has remained unresolved.

It will be interesting to watch Barzal’s progress throughout the upcoming 2017-18 season with another comparison: That of Matt Duchene.

After several trade rumors circulated around Duchene, there was one name that general manager Garth Snow wanted firmly off the table: Mathew Barzal.

Many are quick to criticize the Islanders’ GM for clinging too closely to his prospects, but this season will determine how good Snow’s judgment is, as it appears Barzal will be around to play more than two out of 11 games.

Mind you, this is all coming from the coach who publicly said he’s willing to play kids over veterans if he feels they deserve it too, and somewhere in South Florida, Florida Panthers’ assistant coach Jack Capuano is turning over in his sleep.

Grew up a diehard Islanders and Mets fan based out of Northern New Jersey. Concluding my Broadcast Communications degree at William Paterson University. WP Sportsdesk member, Stan Fischler correspondent, music buff and total Star Wars freak. Follow my social media handles to learn more. Matt Di Giacomo is a Staff Writer for the Islanders on Elite Sports NY. He encourages team discussion. Tweet him @mdigiacESNY and check out his reviews on YouTube.