Mathew Barzal’s favorite athletes all played their entire careers with the same team.
During the Islanders’ breakup day Saturday morning, Barzal listed Michael Jordan, Sidney Crosby and Patrick Kane (and no, he doesn’t count Jordan’s brief comeback with the Wizards) as the players he’d like to join in doing so.
“Obviously I’ve given thought to it,” Barzal said when asked about the possibility of a long-term extension. “Would love to be here on The Island. This is home. This is where I want to be, this is where I want to win.”
Next season will be the last of Barzal’s current three-year, $21 million deal with the Islanders, after which he’ll enter restricted free agency with arbitration rights. A year after that, he’ll be eligible for unrestricted free agency.
That process, though, is one he’d like to avoid.
“I love my life here,” he said. “Love the city, love the fans, obviously our new rink is amazing. I love wearing the blue and orange. Would love to sign long term here — I think it’s such a cool thing when a player plays his whole career with one team.”
The 24-year-old Barzal had 15 goals and 44 assists this season. He missed a handful of games with both COVID-19 and an injury in February. After Jordan Eberle was taken in the expansion draft, the Islanders struggled to find Barzal linemates with whom he could mesh, though playing him with Zach Parise and Kyle Palmieri on either side worked well toward the end of the season.
“I think just disappointed maybe that things didn’t click as quickly as I wanted to, again with guys going down with COVID, guys getting hurt and in and out of the lineup, it can be tough to find that chemistry,” Barzal said. “I pride myself on being a centerman that can play with anyone.”
Barzal is part of the Islanders’ core — a group that has every intention of coming back next season and righting the ship after things went sideways in 2021-22. It’s unlikely the Islanders will make major changes this offseason after general manager Lou Lamoriello kept them together at the trade deadline in March.
“Want to be competing for the Stanley Cup every year,” Barzal said. “It’s obviously the day after the season ended, but this group’s already excited to get back.”
Andy Greene isn’t yet ready to announce a decision on his future, saying he would talk over potential retirement with his family and Lamoriello before doing so.
“Really can’t say one way or another,” the 39-year-old said. “It’s just time to take the emotion out of everything, let it settle down and see what happens next.”
If Greene returns to the NHL next season, he’d like it to be with the Islanders. He has spent his entire career in the Tri-State area, first with the Devils from 2006-2020 before getting sent to the Islanders via trade just before the pandemic.
“It’s been nothing but a great experience, great guys, great organization from top to bottom, as you know,” Greene said. “Where I’m at in my career, obviously it’s probably here or nowhere.”
Goaltander Semyon Varlamov, who will hit unrestricted free agency at the end of next season, said he was happy the Islanders didn’t move him at the trade deadline, and wants to remain with the team going forward.
“I got one more year with the Islanders and then I want to be here next year,” Varlamov said. “I wanted to finish this season no matter what with this team. I didn’t want to be moved in the middle of the season and go play somewhere else. I believe in this team.”
Cal Clutterbuck and Scott Mayfield, who both missed the last six weeks of the season with injuries, expect to be ready for training camp. The only hindrance to Clutterbuck’s offseason training program is that he may be delayed in getting on the ice, while Mayfield said he expects things to be normal.
Noah Dobson demurred when asked about signing a long-term deal with the Islanders, saying he hadn’t thought much about it, but his agent and Lamoriello would sit down at some point during the offseason. The 22-year-old Dobson, who broke out with 51 points this season, is a restricted free agent.
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