The WHL’s Seattle Thunderbirds and Canada’s World Junior roster got some good news on Wednesday after the New York Islanders announced they were sending Mathew Barzal back to junior.
The Islanders selected Barzal with the 16th overall pick in the 2015 draft.
Entering the NHL has seen different experiences for Barzal and fellow Islanders 2016 first-rounder Anthony Beauvillier, who’s played in 10 games this season and has a goal and five points. Barzal, however, has only gotten into two games and averaged 9:45 of ice time with no points. His NHL debut was one to forget after he took two penalties in a 2:03 span within the first five minutes of the game, with the second coming while he was exiting the box. He would add a third later in the final period.
Mistakes and lack of a roster spot hurt Barzal’s chances of sticking in the lineup, which is why Islanders head coach Jack Capuano made him watch from the press box on most nights through the opening month of the season.
The move, while it may not be a popular one in some sections of Isles Country, is the right one for Barzal’s development. If in Capuano’s eyes there’s not a spot in their lineup for him, there’s no use trying to make him fit somewhere he won’t succeed. He’ll now go back to Seattle, use his brief time in the NHL and build off last season’s 27-goal, 88-point campaign for the Thunderbirds and return in a year with a better chance to earn a full-time role.
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