New York Islanders: What a Mathew Barzal contract could look like as Training Camp opens

Mathew Barzal #13 of the New York Islanders. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Mathew Barzal #13 of the New York Islanders. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

What will a Mathew Barzal contract extension with the New York Islanders look like?

Training Camps opened across the NHL on Sunday with teams set to hit the ice today, although the New York Islanders will be without star forward Mathew Barzal who is officially a holdout.

We’re just a week away from the start of the 2020-21 NHL season and all 31 Training Camps will officially start today after 24 teams hosted media days on Sunday, while the seven teams that didn’t make the postseason in 2019-20 began Camp early on New Year’s Eve.

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However, the Islanders will have to begin preparations for the 2020-21 season without their most prized asset in Barzal, who is still an RFA having not yet agreed to terms on a new deal with the franchise.

Granted, the superstar is listed on the Isles’ Official Training Camp Roster which was released today, with practices about to start across the National Hockey League.

Barzal won’t be able to take part in scrimmages without having signed a contract, though, although the fact that he is on Long Island and has had his physical is a good sign that a deal could be on the cusp of happening.

So, with it appearing very likely that things will be worked out between player and team, what will a new contract look like for Mathew Barzal?

For starters, he’ll earn a significant rise on his previous deal and this extension is likely to be a short-term bridge deal, maybe in the region of two-three years.

Forward Pierre-Luc Dubois, who is represented by the same Agency as Barzal, signed a two-year, $10 million extension with the Columbus Blue Jackets over the weekend, a deal that carries an AAV of $5 million.

Barzal is likely to command more than that and it could be that he signs a two-year deal with an Average Annual Value of $6.5 million, maybe even a one-year deal worth $7 million, although the Islanders would likely want their star center under contract for at least two years, if not three.

Another comparison is Sebastian Aho of the Carolina Hurricanes who has similar production levels to that of Barzal, while he signed a big-ticket five-year, $42,270,000 contract in 2019 with an AAV of $8,454,000, and it is likely that Barzal could get something similar to that but just on a shorter deal term wise.

Plus, there is the added caveat of the New York Islanders’ current salary cap situation, with General Manager Lou Lamoriello currently having just $3,905,833 to play with.

Mathew Barzal (13)
Mathew Barzal #13 of the New York Islanders. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

Now, Lamoriello can place defenseman Johnny Boychuk, who has unofficially retired from the NHL, on Long-Term Injured Reserve which would free up an extra $6 million worth of cap space to work with.

That would enable the Islanders to sign Barzal to a bridge deal in time for the start of the 2020-21 NHL season, and also make official the signings of goaltender Cory Schneider, defenseman Andy Greene and forwards Matt Martin and RFA Dmytro Timashov, while remaining cap compliant by the deadline of Jan. 12, 2021.

The fact that there are so many moving parts explains why the Barzal saga has now dragged into Training Camp, and the Islanders will be keen to get their No. 1 center officially re-signed and back on the ice as quickly as possible given that there will be no preseason games before Opening Night, so every single scrimmage will be invaluable this year.

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As a result, don’t be surprised to see an announcement regarding Mathew Barzal’s extension over the next day or two with the forward ready and waiting on Long Island, while time is of the essence for the New York Islanders with the new season edging ever closer.