Over the past three seasons, forward, Mathew Barzal proved his worth on the Islanders and developed into a cornerstone player under head coach Trotz. He won the Calder Memorial Trophy in 2018 producing 22 goals, 63 assists, and 85 points. He is now a first-line center who typically plays alongside Anders Lee and Jordan Eberle. For the first time in his young career, Barzal has entered free agency.
What is an RFA?
An RFA is a restricted free agent. RFAs can make an opportunity to sign with any team of their choice. However, the Islanders can match another team’s offer thus keeping him on the Isles. If the Islanders choose to let him go to another team, the team he signs with will forfeit certain draft picks based on the salary agreed upon. That being said, many teams likely cannot afford Barzal due to the quality draft picks they would likely have to give up.
What is Flat Cap?
The flat cap is a term used to define the extreme strictness of the salary cap for the next two seasons which teams must stay under. Many teams expected the salary cap to increase thus they would be able to afford higher-quality players. However, since many teams would go over the salary cap in an attempt to sign Barzal, it is extremely hard for another team to sign a player of his caliber. The Islanders have salary cap trouble themselves.
Barzal will likely receive a well-deserved raise this offseason. How much will that be? The Islanders have a lot of leverage in negotiations due to the cap concerns of almost every team. The team’s recent success may lead to Barzal agreeing on a team-friendly contract. However, Barzal is still a star that the Islanders will try to keep on the Island long-term. Barzal is likely to get a contract worth $7-9 million per year over 5-8 years due to his caliber of play. Due to the lucrative contract, the Isles would likely have to trade away one of their veterans to afford him.
Chances of Another Team Acquiring Him
The chances of Barzal playing for a different team are slim. Teams are not in a position to sign Barzal due to the flat cap and his status as an RFA. It is more likely that someone else is moved to keep Barzal. The only other teams that could take on Barzal’s contract are rebuilding so they probably do not want to have to pay him over a long span.