The New York Islanders have locked up their star.
With the regular season mere days away from kicking off, the Islanders decided to take care of their most important piece of internal business, agreeing to terms with forward Mathew Barzal on a massive eight-year contract extension worth an average annual value of $9.15 million.
The details of the deal, which now ties Barzal to Long Island through the 2030-31 season, such as its salary structure and the inclusion of any trade protection have yet to be determined.
After a stunningly quiet off-season on the free agent market, the Islanders chose to make their biggest splash until the very end.
Barzal is a fascinating player to evaluate. On the surface, the 25-year-old's raw stats have been somewhat underwhelming in the years since his torrid rookie season in 2017-18, with Barzal having never topped 20 goals or 65 points over the past five seasons, including a dismal 15-goal, 59-point campaign in 2021-22.
Much of that muted offense, however, can be attributed to Barry Trotz, who employs a system designed specifically to neutralize the opposition's scoring chances rather than produce their own. With Trotz now gone, new head coach Lane Lambert could now potentially allow Barzal to run wild, putting him in a position to match the lofty totals he put up in his early career and, therefore, make his shiny new pay raise seem worth it.
That's a big risk, though. If Barzal can't produce like he used to, then a $9.15 million cap hit will be a tough pill to swallow. Then again, Barzal has the skills and tools to be an offensive force in the NHL. Now, he's being paid like one.