Amidst the scramble of getting ready for the 2021 NHL season — which is a 56-game slate that will begin on Jan. 13 — the New York Islanders have just a few weeks to sign their star center and restricted free agent, Mathew Barzal, to a new deal.
With uncertainty about the parameters of the year inhibiting the market, including Barzal’s negotiations, the league’s official announcement of the season’s specifics has gotten the ball rolling.
“Now that we know all the rules and dates, we agreed to resume discussions this week together,” Barzal’s agent, JP Barry, told The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun. “We’ve been in regular contact for several months.”
It’s comforting news for an Islanders fan base that has been sitting on pins and needles awaiting the status on the future of their star — who is one of the lone marketable faces of a team that made the Eastern Conference Final back in September.
While he’s poised for a sizable payday, it will require the Islanders to do some salary-cap gymnastics. General manager Lou Lamoriello will attempt to fit Barzal’s new deal on the books while addressing the final needs of a team looking to take that next step toward a Stanley Cup Final.
The general consensus is that Barzal will get a short-term deal between two and three years that will provide a $6 million or $7 million cap hit.
Currently, the Islanders have around $3.9 million in cap space and will be expected to announce the smaller deals of goalie Cory Schneider, winger Matt Martin, and defenseman Andy Greene. But that will prompt the organization to put Johnny Boychuk and his $6 million cap hit on long-term injured reserve after the veteran defenseman unofficially retired last month.