The means Mathew Barzal appears to be like at it, the Corona Virus pandemic that has paused the NHL season has not ended it. So the Islanders’ 22-year-old star middle isn’t frightened concerning the largest query of this offseason. That can be his pending restricted free company and a potential long-term deal from crew president Lou Lamoriello on the horizon.
“I don’t assume there’s been an excessive amount of communication, and never as a result of there’s been something destructive or something, it’s simply Lou is preparing for a playoff run proper now,” Barzal mentioned on a convention name Friday afternoon. “I’m not too, too frightened about it as a result of I don’t assume the season is over but. I believe we’re nonetheless going to be enjoying, so there are greater issues we have now to fret about proper now by way of heading into the playoffs this yr.”
When the season was stopped on March 12, the Islanders had been one level out of a playoff spot. They had two video games in hand on the Blue Jackets, who held the second wild-card spot, with 14 video games remaining. Lamoriello had traded for two-way middle Jean-Gabriel Pageau, and instantly signed him to a six-year, $30 million extension.
The membership is making an attempt to win now earlier than they hope to maneuver into their new enviornment at Belmont Park for the beginning of the 2021-22 season. The squeeze on the wage cap for subsequent season may make it slightly tighter for a long-term extension for Barzal, however that also looks as if the aim for either side.
“Whenever we’re prepared to take a seat down and get it performed, I’d love for that to occur,” Barzal mentioned. “But on the identical time, I’m not an individual that’s going to hurry this factor or get nervous about it or no matter. Just going about my day, and it’ll occur when it occurs.”
As for these days with out hockey, Barzal has been making an attempt to work out at dwelling with his household in Vancouver, whereas enjoying his dad in desk tennis and his mother in cribbage. He has additionally began enjoying the guitar with some impetus from teammate Jordan Eberle, though Barzal mentioned he had probably not realized a full tune simply but.
There have been some concepts floating round about how the NHL may reopen enterprise, together with beginning the playoffs straight away with an expanded format in a single or two closed places. But the pandemic nonetheless has not peaked within the United States, and commissioner Gary Bettman has been reluctant to publicly focus on any of the plans with no actual concept of when it could be potential to soundly convey gamers and crew personnel collectively.
Yet Barzal continues to be pondering that this season might be saved, and, if that’s the case, the league has an opportunity to capitalize on a singular alternative.
“I believe I’d be cool with enjoying a distinct type or a distinct format or one thing cool like that to offset the yr,” Barzal mentioned. “I don’t assume we’re ever going to have a season — so long as I’m enjoying — like this once more, the place it’s simply an absolute halt throughout the center of the season. And it’s an uncertainty if we’re even going to complete the remainder of the yr.
“So in the event that they had been going to modify it up and do one thing distinctive like that, I might have an interest. I believe the NHL has an important alternative right here, if we do get an opportunity to play, to make it a singular situation due to what’s going on, and make it attractive for viewers to observe, and make one thing new and contemporary for one season.”
If that extends the season late into the summer season — and shortens the time for his personal contract negotiation — Barzal can be fantastic with it.
“Personally, I’m 22, we’re nonetheless solely a month off the season. I believe if they might resume the season fairly shortly, I might don’t have any drawback going again to enjoying,” Barzal mentioned. “At the tip of the day, it’s the NHL’s name they usually’re those that have to generate income and have us beneath contract. It’s their name on the finish of the day, and no matter they determine, I’ll be able to go — and so will our crew.”