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CLOCK IS TICKING! Mathew Barzal Remains Unsigned as Training Camp Nears

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Mathew Barzal of the New York Islanders

There wasn’t much in the way of an update on where things stand with Mathew Barzal on Thursday when Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello spoke with reporters.

Lamoriello had no update on the Islanders star player, who remains unsigned just days away from the start of training camp. However, Barzal is on Long Island quarantining for the start of camp on Sunday.

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“We will certainly work at this with the hope to have him on the first day of training camp,” Lamoriello said on a Zoom call.

Talks between the Islanders and Mathew Barzal have appeared to be in a holding pattern since the season ended in September. Things between the two sides have picked up recently, but hockey insider Darren Dreger reported on Thursday that a deal was not close.

As the days have inched closer to the start of the season, concern has started to rise among the fanbase. And the Islanders are now in a situation where Barzal may not be on the ice for the start of camp.

Lamoriello wouldn’t even contemplate that thought when asked about it on Thursday.

“We still have a few days until training camp, so I don’t want to get into any hypotheticals,” Lamoriello responded. “It is our intention and his intention to be there and hopefully that will happen.”

Lou Speaks: Ho-Sang Snub, UFAs and Barzal Drama

The expectation is that Mathew Barzal will get a bridge deal in the neighborhood of two or three years worth around $7 million per year. Earlier on Thursday, fellow restricted free agent, Pierre-Luc Dubois signed a two-year, $10 million extension with the Columbus Blue Jackets.

The Islanders have been in a bit of a cap crunch since the offseason began. They currently have $3.9 million in cap space, but with Johnny Boychuk ending his career in November, the Islanders will get a bit more cap space to work with.

The Islanders could make an additional maneuver to free up some more cap space before the season begins.

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Free Agency

‘I love it on the Island,’ Mathew Barzal Puts to Bed Thought He’d Want to Play Elsewhere | NYHN+

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Mathew Barzal

It was as if Mathew Barzal was answering all of the naysayers directly on Saturday afternoon after news broke that he had signed a three-year, $21 million contract extension with the New York Islanders.

As the days went on and Barzal remained unsigned, many wondered what the hold up had been. What was taking so long? Former NHLer and Spittin’ Chicklets co-host Paul Bissonette even suggested Barzal hold out for “as long as possible” and that he didn’t think Barzal was having fun playing in Barry Trotz’s system.

That didn’t sit well with Islanders fans.

But Barzal put all of that to rest when he spoke on Saturday, expressing his love for Long Island and reiterating his excitement to be an Islander.

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Free Agency

SIGNED! Islanders, Mathew Barzal Agree on 3-Year Bridge Deal

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Mathew Barzal of the New York Islanders

The long wait is over for fans, the New York Islanders, and Mathew Barzal.

The team and Barzal agreed to a new three-year contract on Saturday, per the Fourth Period’s Dave Pagnotta, who delivered the news.

Mathew Barzal’s three-year deal carries a $7 million AAV, according to PuckPedia. TSN’s Darren Dreger reported that Mathew Barzal will be paid $4 million in the first year, $7 million in the second year and $10 million in the final year of the contract.

The news is a welcomed relief to Islanders fans who had been waiting with bated breath after weeks of negotiations between the two sides. Training camp opened earlier this week without the Islanders’ star player on the ice.

However, his absence didn’t concern teammates, who expressed confidence that a deal would be worked out in short order.

Barzal was on the ice for the first time with his teammates on Saturday morning, just after news of the new contract had broke. Making up for lost time, Barzal scored twice in the Islanders’ third scrimmage of training camp, Andrew Gross reported.

Part of the holdup for the deal had been the Islanders’ complicated financial situation. General manager Lou Lamoriello had reportedly been working to try and move some pieces to free up more cap space.

The Islanders had been working with $3.09 million in free cap space.

With Mathew Barzal now agreed to a new deal, the Islanders are now $3.09 million projected over the salary cap with a 21-man roster and Johnny Boychuk’s $6 million cap hit, according to PuckPedia.

The Islanders could still make a move before Tuesday when they need to become cap compliant to start the season.

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Free Agency

REPORT: Derick Brassard, New York Islanders Reunion Unlikely This Season

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Derick Brassard

It looks as though Derick Brassard’s time as a member of the New York Islanders has come to an end.

Despite some speculation that Derick Brassard could return on a short-term deal this season, The Athletic’s Arthur Staple reported on Monday that a return to Long Island was unlikely for the 33-year-old. Brassard signed a one year deal worth $1.2 million with the Islanders last offseason.

The Fourth Period’s David Pagnotta reported Brassard and the Arizona Coyotes are nearing a one-year deal.

Derick Brassard had an up and down year with the Islanders, ending the COVID-19 shortened season with 32 points (10 goals, 22 assists) in 66 games and developing chemistry with Jean-Gabriel Pageau after his arrival in New York. In the postseason, Brassard added another eight points (two goals, six assists) in 18 games.

While Brassard is a natural center, he was utilized on the wing by Islanders head coach Barry Trotz.

Earlier on Monday, Pagnotta suggested that there was a chance Derick Brassard could still return to the Islanders, but that the forward did have other options. And Staple suggested that the Islanders could pursue another top-nine winger.

For the Islanders, Derick Brassard would have helped fill the current holes the team has on the third line. Pageau will center that line, but it’s up in the air who will be on this wing. With Brassard now out of the picture, it opens up the door for the likes of Oliver Wahlstrom, Michael Dal Colle, or other internal options to vie for that spot.

The Islanders also have Ross Johnston or Josh Ho-Sang who could make a push for the role during training camp.

Brassard will be one of only a handful of players from the 2019-20 that won’t return to the Islanders in 2020-21. Unrestricted free agents Matt Martin and Andy Greene are expected to be re-signed once the dust settles on contract talks with Mathew Barzal.

The Islanders’ star forward remains unsigned.

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