In recent weeks, Mathew Barzal told whoever has asked that he would prefer to spend the entirety of his NHL career with the Islanders. It was something he also emphatically declared on breakup day immediately after last season, even after the Islanders failed to make the playoffs. His commitment hasn’t wavered.
The difference between the end of last season and the start of training camp now is that the 25-year-old became eligible to sign a long-term extension in July, but nothing has been finalized. Barzal is set to enter the final season of a three-year, $21 million bridge deal he signed midway through the 2020-21 season and would be a restricted free agent next summer.
On Monday, Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello said that “without question” he’d like to see Barzal with the team for the long term. He also declared that “I’m (Barzal’s) biggest fan.”
Barzal wants to be here for the foreseeable future. Lamoriello wants the same.
So why hasn’t anything happened yet?
“It’s a good question,” Barzal said on Thursday, following the first on-ice session of camp at Northwell Health Ice Center. “I’ve said it before, I would obviously really like to have a deal here. There’s obviously (two) sides to that. For Lou to say that (he was his biggest fan) the other day was obviously a huge compliment. I’m obviously a massive fan of him and the structure he brings, and when I’m older I’m going to take things with me that I learned from him, hopefully in a management role one day.
“Hopefully, there’s still (three) weeks before the season and we can hammer something out. If not, I’m not really worried about it just because my heart’s here and I know that we’ll get something fair and something both sides will be happy about.”