There’s a strong class of restricted free agents next offseason, headlined by young wingers like Timo Meier, Jesper Bratt (again), and Alex DeBrincat, to name a few. There’s also New York Islanders cornerstone Mathew Barzal, who said today during the first day of camp that he wants to get an extension done prior to the start of the regular season. However, in true Islanders fashion, little is known on how close the team and Barzal are on an extension, according to The Athletic’s Kevin Kurz.
Barzal added that it’s not a hard deadline he’s imposing, rather, it’s just a desire to get it out of the way.
If [it’s not done before the start of the season], I’m not really worried about it just because my heart’s here and I know that we’ll get something fair and something both sides will be happy about.
Given precedence with the Islanders, we likely won’t know about the extension until it’s already signed. Barzal is entering the final season of a three-year, $21MM bridge deal signed days prior to the 2020-21 season.
Over the course of the past two years, Barzal’s scored 32 goals, 74 assists, and 104 points in 128 games while averaging 18:20 per night. While all of those figures have cooled off from the pace he set for himself during his Calder-winning 2017-18 campaign, he remains a vital young piece in an otherwise aging forward core.
His importance to the team, now and in the future, is something general manager Lou Lamoriello is keenly aware of, saying “without question” that he’d like to see Barzal in an Islanders jersey long-term. Depending on which rumors one listens to, Lamoriello demonstrated that commitment to Barzal by making a head coaching change this past offseason.
In any event, it seems likely at this point that Barzal will avoid another uncertain situation as a restricted free agent holdout as he did in 2020.