NEWARK - Mathew Barzal got the full array of lessons learned Friday night. The 15th overall pick in the June draft, Barzal showed some of his considerable skill in converting a turnover into a quick backhand goal in the second period against the Devils.
He also turned a puck over at the New Jersey blue line that led to a shorthanded breakaway goal and got beat for position in front of his own net on the eventual winner for the Devils in the third.
But this is the time for learning and Barzal has turned more heads for good reasons than bad during his first NHL training camp.
"He's got the skill, and a lot of first-round picks have that," said Steve Bernier, who has been Barzal's linemate for just about all of the first week of camp. "But what I see is the confidence. He's trying plays that you don't see many young guys try, and he's got the confidence to think he's going to pull them off."
The Islanders jumped into the first round of the draft to pick Barzal, trading away Griffin Reinhart, a previous No. 4 overall pick, to the Oilers for that 15th slot. The entire Isles front office was shocked and thrilled that Barzal was still on the board, especially after the Bruins made three straight picks at Nos. 12-14.
Barzal has been in the organization for only three months, but he's already the team's top prospect in many eyes -- a player who could be pushing hard for a roster spot at 19 next year if he continues the way he's been.
Friday's Isles roster was not laden with regulars, but Barzal has gotten power-play work alongside John Tavares and Ryan Strome, among others. And shown he can hold his own.
"It's been cool," Barzal said. "I'm getting used to the speed and intensity of the NHL game. You just have to be able to make plays."
And learn from the ones you don't make. Mike Cammalleri bumped Barzal to create some space in front of Stephon Williams for a sweep-in goal early in the third to break a 2-2 tie and Barzal's power-play giveaway that led to Joe Blandisi's shorty in the second was an unfortunate mistake.
But at this stage, the Isles will take the mistakes to see the skill Barzal brings.
"You show him video between periods, after practices and he wants to learn the right way," Jack Capuano said. "When you have a little swagger but you're still a team guy, I'm all for it. We want him to play to his strengths and the rest we can teach."
Notes & quotes: Strome scored a five-on-three goal for the other Isles score in a 4-2 loss. Williams made 23 saves and played the entire game for the Isles, who will send a squad to Halifax on Saturday for a game with the Hurricanes. A second squad lost, 5-2, at the Flyers on Friday night.
The Islanders will make their first roster cuts Saturday to get down to 30 or so players for next week, when they have their final two preseason games Monday and Sunday.