Mathew Barzal’s eyes widened and he spoke reverently, as if trying to wish the possibility into existence.
The topic: Patrick Kane to the New York Islanders.
“He’s one of the best of all-time,” Barzal told The Post. “It’d be pretty cool to play with a guy — he was second-to-none. Such a good passer, such a good goalscorer, too. He really does a lot of everything with the puck. It definitely would be cool. I don’t know if [the rumor is] legit or not, but it’d definitely be cool.”
Barzal and Kane share an agency, Creative Artists Agency, and they have a relationship off the ice, having even skated together a couple times during the summer. The potential fit on the ice is painfully obvious — the biggest hole in the Islanders’ lineup is a goalscorer to play alongside Barzal, and the last time Kane scored fewer than 25 goals in a non-shortened season was 2011-12.
Barzal is averaging a full assist per 60 minutes more than a year ago, and ahead of Tuesday’s game, ranked fifth in the league with 24. His goalscoring has lagged behind, but he has consistently played at the level expected of a player with his stature. Add Kane to the mix and it would immediately become one of the most feared combinations in the league.
“Really well. I mean, really well,” Barzal said when asked how the two would complement each other. “You put Patrick Kane with anybody, he’s gonna complement whoever he plays with. I think he’d be great at getting me the puck and I’d obviously want to get him the puck.
“I think whoever Patrick Kane plays with is pretty lucky. If it ever were to happen, it would be pretty special.”
From a salary cap perspective, the Islanders not only should be able to fit Kane, but have been treating their roster with accruing space as a priority. As things currently stand, the Isles are projected to have $10.8 million of space available at the trade deadline; Kane has a sticker price of $10.5 million annually. And that is with a 23-man roster, necessitated by injuries to Kyle Palmieri and Cal Clutterbuck, the latter of whom skated ahead of Tuesday’s match against the Blues.
As befits general manager Lou Lamoriello, there are no whispers indicating his preferences. It is also not known whether Kane would waive his no-move clause to play on Long Island, though the widespread assumption is that he wants to play for a contender — a criteria that the Islanders currently fit more than their neighbors on Broadway.
Given the Islanders’ monetary commitment to Barzal, $73.2 million over eight seasons, acquiring a goalscorer to play next to him is all the more pivotal. Kane, age 34 and in the last year of his deal, would not be a long-term answer there, but he could vault the Islanders from a team looking to make noise in the playoffs to one with realistic title aspirations.
It is not hard to connect the dots. And it does not hurt that acquiring Kane would be the ultimate way to one-up the Rangers, just a few years after Artemi Panarin spurned Long Island for Broadway.
“He just thinks the game at a different level,” Zach Parise, Kane’s teammate on the 2010 U.S. Olympic Team and Barzal’s neighbor in the Islanders’ dressing room, told The Post. “It’s almost like he just does such a good job of baiting people to where he wants them to go and makes his play. It’s a lot like [Barzal] where he’s got that ability to — you get four guys on the ice looking at you and then you get two of your teammates wide open.
“Special, special player. And you know what’s crazy, it’s like he gets better the bigger the game. You can’t say that about a lot of people, but the bigger the game, that’s when he plays his best.”
Kane has won three Cups with the Blackhawks. Wouldn’t it be special for him to get ring No. 4 as the Islanders hoist banner No. 5?
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