Mathew Barzal’s first NHL season came with great individual success that likely will culminate with the 20-year-old winning the Calder Trophy as the league’s top rookie.
“I had a good chat with management,” Barzal said on Monday at Northwell Health Ice Center as the team conducted its second day of exit interviews. “It stinks not being in the playoffs and the last couple of weeks have been tough, just not being in meaningful games. Today, we talked about how we can get better.”
Barzal has set the bar high for himself after compiling 22 goals and 63 assists — tying Bryan Trottier’s franchise record for assists by a rookie — and establishing himself as the leading Calder contender.
The NHL Awards Show will be held in Las Vegas on June 20.
“It’d be pretty good,” Barzal said of winning the Calder. “It’s a pretty good group of guys that have won that, some Hall of Famers. If I could be in that conversation, it would be pretty special. It’s something that, halfway through the season, you can’t ignore because everybody is talking about it. My teammates helped me a lot with that, just with the assists and them putting the puck in the net. Yeah, it’d be special to win it.”
Barzal, who centered the Islanders’ second line, might inherit the responsibility of being the No. 1 center next season if John Tavares leaves via free agency.
“He drives this organization,” Barzal said. “He drives this team, just how dedicated he is to hockey and being better every single day. That’s what I took the most, his compete level in practice. I was waiting for the day where he didn’t come and give it everything. But there was not one day he wasn’t the hardest worker. As a young guy, it gives me a reason to work hard every day.”
Mathew Barzal, who is in line to become the Islanders’ No. 1 center if John Tavares leaves, had a better statistical season than the Islanders’ captain in their respective rookie campaigns:
18:00 AVG. ICE TIME 17:46
54 POINTS 85