Mathew Barzal joined the New York Islanders on the ice Saturday for his first practice of training camp after agreeing to a three-year, $21 million contract.
“I love the game, and I was anxious,” Barzal said. “I wanted to get out with the boys.”
The 23-year-old star forward missed the first few days of camp as the NHL’s most prominent unsigned restricted free agent. General manager Lou Lamoriello was confident a deal would get done, and it happened five days before the Islanders open the season at the rival New York Rangers.
Barzal will count $7 million against the salary cap through the 2022-23 season. He still will be a restricted free agent when this contract expires.
He led the Islanders with 60 points on 19 goals and 41 assists in 68 games last season. The 2015 first-round pick had 17 points in 22 playoff games during the team’s run to the Eastern Conference final and has become New York’s best offensive player.
“He’s the cornerstone of our team here a little bit,” captain Anders Lee said. “He’s one of those guys that can really change the game on a dime.”
Barzal understands expectations on him will be higher, but he doesn’t feel the weight of excessive pressure.
“When you’re prepared for something and ready to go, pressure, I don’t really find that there’s too much,” Barzal said. “Now being paid a substantial amount, I know consistency’s a huge thing. There’s no nights off.”
Published: 2021-01-09 20:15:54
Tags: #York #Islanders #Mathew #Barzal #agree #3year #21M #contract