The New York Islanders have an important contract to take care of during or directly following the 2022-23 campaign, as the talented Mathew Barzal is set to become a restricted free agent next summer. Barzal is in the final year of a three-year bridge deal worth $21 million, which he signed before the start of the shortened 2020-21 season.
In his end-of-the-year media session, Mathew Barzal was adamant about staying with the New York Islanders long-term:
“This is home. This is where I want to be. This is where I want to win. I love my life here. I love the city. I love the fans. Obviously, our new rink is amazing and I love wearing the blue and orange. I would love to sign long-term here.”
Well, the New York Islanders have been down this path before and likely do not want to have a repeat of the John Tavares fiasco.
The Islanders need more out of Mathew Barzal, but the 25-year-old centerman, for now, needs more talent around him, and that’s a glaring issue for the two sides that could get in the way of agreeing to an extension.
Although there is no information if there have been talks between Barzal’s camp and Lou Lamoriello regarding an extension, the Islanders will need to decide if Mathew Barzal is in fact part of their future plans before it’s too late.
Hockey Now colleague Jimmy Murphy tweeted out a hypothetical situation regarding Mathew Barzal and potentially being moved to the Detroit Red Wings in order to create cap space for a player like Nazem Kadri while also addressing the future.
I wouldn’t sleep on Stevie Y trying to help Lou’s cap situation and in the process acquire Barzal. Lou signs Kadri and can still be in win now mode and moves Barzal and address future. 👀#Isles #LGRW@NYIHockeyNow @DetHockeyNow https://t.co/PGl2ad0fFj
— MurphysLaw74 (@MurphysLaw74) August 3, 2022
Islanders fans did not take too kindly to the hypothetical, but I think many believed this was a move to clear enough space to sign Nazem Kadri–which explains the responses to the tweet.
However, these are two separate issues as the Islanders cannot afford to lose Mathew Barzal for nothing if he does not want to remain with the organization. And they could kill two birds with one stone by moving Barzal for assets, as well as creating the necessary space to bring on strong talent, like a Kadri and even have the room for another piece, potentially a J.T. Miller-type player.
I would imagine many teams have been inquiring about Mathew Barzal and his asking price.
Could Detroit Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman have made a call to Lou Lamoriello?
The Detroit Red Wings are a young team on the rise. They have talent on the offensive side of the puck in 26-year-old captain Dylan Larkin, a superstar in the making in 20-year-old Lucas Raymond. Tyler Bertuzzi, 27, is in his prime and just came off a 30-goal campaign.
This past offseason, they signed David Perron, Andrew Copp, and Dominik Kubalik and will have a healthy Jakob Vrana, Robbi Fabbri, and Oskar Sundqvist this upcoming season.
Adding Mathew Barzal to that offense would be a thing of beauty for the Red Wings.
On the defensive side of the puck, the Red Wings are led by 2022 Calder Trophy winner Mortiz Seider and veteran in Ben Chiarot. And the Red Wings also have a strong goaltending tandem, as they signed the talented 27-year-old Ville Husso to pair with the 26-year-old Alex Nedeljkovic.
Not to mention, the Red Wings have a ton of prospects in the pipeline. Our colleagues at Detroit Hockey Now have been diving into the Red Wings prospect pool recently in their
Yzerman built a powerhouse of a team during his time as the general manager of the Tampa Bay Lightning and is on his way to doing the same in Detroit.
The move makes sense for the Red Wings, who have over $10 million in salary cap space despite their offseason additions and could fit Barzal’s $7 million cap hit without having to make moves.
But does the move make sense for the New York Islanders?
No player in the NHL is untouchable but it is highly unlikely that the Red Wings would want to part ways with young talent like a Lucas Raymond or a Moritz Seider.
Tyler Bertuzzi, a goal-scoring winger which is a need for the New York Islanders, is a player that could be moved. He has two years left at 4.75 million annually.
But the one issue with Bertuzzi is that he is unvaccinated and as we saw with the handling of Islanders prospect Bode Wilde, a player that is not vaccinated is not welcome to play for the New York Islanders organization.
So until Bertuzzi elects to get vaccinated, he remains a non-option for the New York Islanders.
As mentioned, the Red Wings do have prospects, but the New York Islanders are in win-now mode for the next few seasons given their aging core–even if Mathew Barzal is dealt.
The Red Wings could part with proven NHL talent along with prospects, and picks, to get Barzal, but given Detroit’s offense right now, would it make sense for them to even go that route?
It’s more of a want than a need for the Red Wings brass as scoring goals should not be a problem for the Red Wings in 2022-23, but having Barzal makes that offense that much more dynamic.
There is no way to determine what a team would need to give the New York Islanders for Mathew Barzal because it is still a question mark as to how high his ceiling is.
Is Barzal more than just a playmaker? With the right talent beside him could be a point-per-game player if not better and score more than 25 goals a season consistently?
The New York Islanders will have one more chance to get those answers in 2022-23.
If Mathew Barzal shows that he can be an elite player for a full 82-game season and wants to stay with the Islanders, then signing him to an extension to the terms he wants makes complete sense.
But if during or after the 2022-23 season, the Islanders did not see what they wanted or Barzal did not get the support he needed to be successful and wants out, then the Islanders have no choice but to move him.
If the Islanders had to swallow the tough pill, I just don’t see how a trade with the Detroit Red Wings would make sense for the Stanley Cup or bust New York Islanders.