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.
Media: "Does Barzal make the team based on what you've seen so far?"
Dougie: "Yes." pic.twitter.com/ynRtMdas2h
— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) September 26, 2017
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.
Wow @Barzal_97 ? #LGI pic.twitter.com/a7xkiO16Bq
— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) September 25, 2017
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.