This offseason, the New York Islanders failed yet again to add an elite offensive piece to play alongside Mathew Barzal. The 25-year-old forward is not only coming off a lackluster season with just 15 goals and 59 points but also has one year remaining on his deal (RFA).
Despite no additions, New York Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello was not disappointed with his offseason. And Lamoriello also made sure to make it clear that the Islanders are not a team that players do not want to play for.
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“As far as the organization, as far as the players we have here and the way they talk about their treatment, from ownership, in their enjoyment of the island itself, and also the commitment that they have made themselves if you will for our roster when they had opportunities to be free agents, so that’s the biggest selling point,” Lamoriello said. “Then we hear the word disappointing, I wonder what that is because free agents have to make decisions, and also teams have to make decisions. And if you’re interested in the player or players it has to be the right fit, cap fit. It has to be the right role fit.”
“There’s no disappointment where we’re at because we feel very good about who we are or we would have made drastic changes.”
As for finding someone for Mathew Barzal, Lamoriello believes those players are on the roster.
“I feel very comfortable that we have the players here that can complement Mat and Mat complement them,” Lamoriello said. “I think it’s a two-way street. I have tremendous confidence in Mat’s development. I believe each, and every year he just becomes a better player, in my opinion, and I feel that he has the ability to lead us certainly in different categories, and I think he’ll make that next jump this year.”
This past season, Mat Barzal had many linemates and although at times he clicked with some, like Zach Parise, there was never a moment where anyone could say “This guy and Mathew Barzal are a duo”, something that the New York Islanders need to find in 2021-22 for the team to get the most out of no. 13.
Per Money Puck, Barzal played 257.8 minutes alongside Anders Lee and Josh Bailey, with that line scoring 14 goals, 3.26 goals per sixty minutes, with 241 SOG. They were on the ice for six goals against and 246 shots on their goal.
On a line with Zach Parise and Oliver Wahlstrom for 163 minutes, that line produced just six goals for, with six goals against, 2.21 goals per sixty minutes. They registered 183 SOG, allowing 186.
We saw the exact same production when Kyle Palmieri was in the right-wing spot on that line, in 102.4 minutes, outshooting their opponents 108-106.
Barzal centering Anders Lee and Palmieri did not work wonders, as they allowed six goals while scoring just three in a little under 78 minutes played.
Kieffer Bellows, who showed an exorbitant amount of confidence on Monday after inking a one-year, $1.2 million deal, got a slim chance with Barzal and Zach Parise, just shy of 52 minutes, having produced three goals for and three goals against.
They were outshot 91-89.
The revolving door of Barzal linemates in 2021-22 went one step further, as Cal Clutterbuck even got a chance with Barzal and Lee, producing three goals and two assists in a little over 37 minutes, while outshooting their opponent 34-27.
Based on those statistics, it seemed that fan favorite Josh Bailey, alongside Anders Lee, produced the most.
Mat Barzal spoke in his last interview before summer vacation about the revolving door of linemates through the wacky, COVID-riddled 2021-22 season.
“I don’t think frustration is the right word. I think just disappointed, maybe that you know, things didn’t click as quickly as I wanted to,” Barzal said. “Again, with guys going down with COVID and guys getting hurt, in and out of the lineup, can be tough to find that chemistry.”
“I pride myself on being a center that can play with anyone and just, unfortunately, we didn’t put more pucks in the back of the net.”
With Mat Barzal’s future with the New York Islanders unknown, despite him saying that he would love to remain on the island and that it’s his home, first-year head coach Lane Lambert needs to find a player or two that can have success with Barzal not just in 2021-22, but for seasons to come if Barzal agrees to a long-term extension comes season’s end.