Mathew Barzal has had such a fantastic rookie season so far, we shouldn’t let his deserved accolades be diminished by the swirling muck of the team around him.
So cheers to this puck-controlling, rink-orbiting breath of fresh air for being named NHL Rookie of the Month for January. In the month he led all rookies in scoring with 15 points (three goals, 12 assists) in 13 games.
By some measures the 20-year-old is having the most impressive Islanders rookie season since Mike Bossy — in other words, he is in the conversation for best rookie in franchise history. If he goes on to win the Calder Trophy as the league’s top rookie, he would be the first Islander to receive it since Bryan Berard in 1996-97.
Barzal has tied Bossy for second place among Islanders’ rookies for most 3+ point games in a season (six) — which includes two five-point games, making him just the seventh rookie in NHL history to have more than one of those.
Last night’s shutout in Toronto pulled Barzal off his point-per-game pace, but he’s now at 51 points in 52 games. If he is able to keep up that admittedly lofty pace, he’d finish the season in the top 100 all-time scorers in Islanders history.
Whatever his season-ending totals look like, we just hope he keeps on playing the way he’s playing, with an abundance of creativity and love for the game. When all else fails, Barzal is a reason to watch night after night.