New York Islanders center Mathew Barzal skates with the puck in...

New York Islanders center Mathew Barzal skates with the puck in the third period against the Philadelphia Flyers at UBS Arena, Sunday, Oct. 2, 2022. Credit: Corey Sipkin

Mathew Barzal meant it.

The sleek-skating playmaker has often repeated how much he enjoys playing for the Islanders and how he hoped to remain on Long Island for the long term. On Tuesday, the team announced Barzal, 25, had agreed to an eight-year extension and an NHL source confirmed the average annual value is $9.15 million.

The $73.2 million package becomes the richest contract in Islanders’ history.

“There’s just so much excitement,” Barzal said at Northwell Health Ice Center in East Meadow before the Islanders needed overtime to beat the Flyers, 4-3, in a preseason game in Philadelphia. “It’s one of those days you’re never going to forget. I called my parents last night when it got done. Anytime your mom has a tear in her eye, you either did something really good or something really bad. It’s a special day for me and my family.

“I love it here. I genuinely do. I think it’s really one of the top places to play in the league. There’s really no other place I’d rather be.”

Barzal is entering the final season of a three-year, $21-million deal — his newly-signed extension begins in 2023-24 — and he would have been a restricted free agent with arbitration rights next offseason. He said negotiations between his agent, J.P. Barry, and Islanders president and general manager Lou Lamoriello began about two months ago.

“I never had any talks with anyone about going anywhere else, doing anything else, playing this year out,” Barzal said. “It was all about wanting to get signed, wanting to commit to the boys and the organization.”

The Islanders open the regular season on Oct. 13 and Lamoriello said he likely would not have let contract negotiations “linger” once the preseason ended.

“It becomes a distraction,” Lamoriello said. “I don’t like distractions.”

“It was important for my mindset,” Barzal said. “It’s a lot of individualistic thoughts throughout the year. You’re playing mostly for yourself. So I’m glad I can get this done and play for the team and just commit to winning.”

Barzal, selected 16th overall in 2015, has either led the Islanders in scoring or been tied for the team points lead in each of his five NHL seasons and had 15 goals and 44 assists in 73 games last season. The two-time All-Star has 91 goals and 220 assists in 362 games and won the Calder Trophy as the top rookie in 2018 under ex-coach Doug Weight with 22 goals and 63 assists.

He hasn’t gotten close to 85 points again as Weight’s successor, Barry Trotz, and now Lane Lambert have pushed Barzal to become more responsible defensively.

“I’m a fan because Mat has the ability to raise his game and to be a special player,” Lamoriello said. “This contract and our faith in him puts that responsibility on him. We’re trusting that. Now it’s up to him to respond to that. There’s a comfort on both sides that can and will happen. That’s why it’s important to get something like this done.

“There’s no question he’s improved his game without the puck. He knows he has a ways to go in that area and is committed to doing that.”

Notes & quotes: Defenseman Noah Dobson scored on a four-on-three power play with 7.3 seconds left in overtime. Josh Bailey had a power-play goal in the second period and added two assists, setting up Casey Cizikas’ second-period shorthanded goal. Captain Anders Lee tied the game at 3 at 12:19 of the third period. Ilya Sorokin made 30 saves as the first Islanders’ goalie to play a complete game in the preseason. Ross Johnston had the Islanders’ first fight of the preseason, dueling Ronnie Attard in the first period…Defenseman Seth Helgeson was re-assigned to the Islanders’ AHL affiliate in Bridgeport, where he is the captain…Cal Clutterbuck missed his second straight practice. Defenseman Scott Mayfield and Oliver Wahlstrom also did not skate on Tuesday.


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