New York Islanders Mathew Barzal: 2015 Draft Calder Kid

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Mathew Barzal
MONTREAL, QC - FEBRUARY 28: New York Islanders Center Mathew Barzal (13) enters Montreal Canadiens zone with the puck during the New York Islanders versus the Montreal Canadiens game on February 28, 2018, at Bell Centre in Montreal, QC (Photo by David Kirouac/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
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After Connor McDavid went down with an injury in his rookie season, it seemed the 2015 NHL draft would never see a Calder trophy. That was until this season when a pair of 1997 born players took the NHL by storm. March 5th marked the final match-up of the season between Mathew Barzal and Brock Boeser, a pair of impact rookies for the New York Islanders (Barzal) and Vancouver Canucks (Boeser). On this night the Calder Chase was complete.

Matthew Barzal all but Clinches Calder Trophy

Former Seattle Thunderbird Barzal went into this season with the woeful Islanders carrying an impressive resume; including a World Junior silver medal for Canada and a WHL Championship. Drafted 16th overall in 2015 Barzal was thought of as a prototypical two-way forward with explosive offensive ability. While his play in the defensive end this season has been hard to judge on a Islanders team that has far and away allowed the most goals of any team this season, his explosive offensive talents has been put on display with three five-point games.

Early on this season, it seemed the Calder trophy chase would go right down to the nitty gritty but last night ended that. Late in the third, Vancouver’s Boeser got tangled up with Cal Clutterbuck and fell awkwardly into the Canuck’s open door on the bench. After the winger was taken to the hospital by ambulance, he has been announced as out for four to six weeks. If on the longer end of that estimate, he could be done for the year. Boeser led all rookies with 29 goals this season, a mark that put him on pace to beat Pavel Bure‘s record of 34 goals by a Vancouver rookie. Boeser’s quick release and sharp shooting ability were put on display at this years All-Star skills competition that saw him snipe his way to a win in the shooting accuracy competition.

While Boeser’s season looks to be over, Barzal continues to shine adding his 50th and 51st assists on the season in last night’s 4-3 overtime loss to Vancouver. While the Islanders battle for a WildCard spot, this season has been surrounded with questions on Long Island.

The Future in Long Island

With the status of franchise player John Tavares‘ future with the team in question and the return to the Nassau Coliseum, this season has certainly seen it’s fair share of controversy. In what has not exactly been a stable situation Barzal has been the bright spot this team has been waiting for.

With a trend of draft busts around the Islanders franchise, Barzal has been a steady contributor all season long, and now ranks 15th in NHL points leaders with 69 on the season. While showing his incredible vision and puck possession ability Barzal has found chemistry with line-mate Jordan Eberle, who now sits just five goals back of a career high 28 tallies.

In a race that seemed to be Barzal’s to lose, an unfortunate injury has cemented the young centre as the Calder trophy winner. However, while these two young studs were not drafted the conventional first and second overall, it seems this race will link these two players for years to come.

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