Barzal hopes to sign a new contract before the start of the season


EAST MEADOW, New York — Mathew Barzal is optimistic that he will be able to sign a new contract with the New York Islanders before the start of the current season.

The 25-year-old center is entering the final year of a three-year contract and could become a restricted free agent. Barzal, who was the Islanders’ first-round pick (16th overall) in the 2015 draft, finished first in team scoring last season, tied with Brock Nelsonunder a total of 59 points (15 goals, 44 assists).

« We’re two weeks out from the start of the season and hopefully we can reach an agreement, » Barzal said after the first day of training camp on Thursday. Otherwise, I don’t really care because my heart is here and I know we’re going to come up with something that’s fair, that’s going to satisfy both parties. »

TO READ : Barzal believes Lambert could be the spark plug for the Islanders

Barzal’s comments echoed what Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello said earlier this week. New York plays its regular season opener Oct. 13 against the Florida Panthers.

« We have high expectations for him, » Lamoriello said Monday. He has high expectations of himself too. … He is without a doubt one of our leaders. No doubt, he is probably our most talented player and his level of commitment is beyond doubt. He is ready to prove himself in many ways, I fully trust and am his biggest supporter. »

New York (37-35-10) missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season for the first time since 2018, finishing 16 points behind the Washington Capitals for the second-place fourth ace in the Eastern Association. Barry Trotz was fired from his coaching position on May 9 and Lane Lambert replaced him on May 16.

The Islanders reached the third round of the playoffs in 2020 and 2021.

“It’s been a long summer, underlined Barzal, there was a lot of food for thought.

“I want to show them right from the start, at camp, that I have taken a step and that I have worked hard this summer. I’m sure everyone has adopted that same mentality of wanting to prove themselves. For me, the next step is a question of… there have been games where [je jouais bien] and there were other games where the circumstances weren’t in my favor and I wasn’t quite on my plate. In my case, it’s about always having a high level of play. I want to emphasize my folds. I want to focus on turnovers and steal the puck from the opponent. … I want to have that high level of consistency that I’ve had at times, but need to have every game. »

Video: NYI@BUF: Great pass from Dobson for Barzal

Barzal has emphasized the need to improve his level of play in the neutral zone and the defensive zone, but around him it is felt that he has not yet realized his full potential in attack. He had 85 points (22 goals, 63 assists) and won the Calder Trophy as NHL Rookie of the Year in 2017-18, but he never tallied more than 62 points in four seasons under the orders from Trotz.

Lambert said he will use training camp to identify teammates who will complement Barzal best.

« We’ll see how things go, » Lambert said. We’re only day one here and we’ve got some time and a few games [préparatoires] to assess things. … He’s looking to provoke things and he’s looking to pick up the pace of the game. He needs a player who can work well with him and match him in work habits, things like that. We’ll see what happens. »

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