The New York Islanders have signed 2015 first-round draft pick Mathew Barzal to an entry-level contract, according to the team’s official website. He was the Islanders’ pick at No. 16 in the most recent draft, and scored 57 points in 44 contests last year in the WHL.
The forward also was part of the Canadian team that won gold at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament and is a two-time bronze medal winner at the U18 Championships.
Barzal is noted for his strong play in all three zones and has the potential to be a strong two-way center at the NHL level. He’s not the flashiest of offensive players, but he has shown some high-end skill around the opposition’s net as he’s evolved.
He’ll be looking to build on that this year, and will be counted on to play big minutes for the Seattle Thunderbirds.
After an injury-shortened season last year – and based on the way he has spoken about his goals for the upcoming T-Birds season – there’s a very likely chance Barzal will be back in Seattle this year. He’ll have another chance in 2016, as a 19-year-old, to make the Islanders’ roster full time. He wouldn’t be eligible to play full time in the AHL until he’s 20.
While Barzal averaged over a point per game last season, the midseason injury never really allowed us to see his full potential. This year, he’ll be counted on to be a veteran leader and the team’s top offensive producer.
One of the biggest risers in the 2015 draft class, Barzal isn’t likely to make the Islanders roster this season. He still has three years of junior eligibility left, and New York has plenty of forwards to work with in 2015-16. Barzal was injured midway through the 2014-15 campaign, and though he was a point-per-game player, he never really got the chance to get going.