We’ve been covering (as have many outlets) the news that the New York Islanders and forward Mathew Barzal might be close on a new deal that would keep the star restricted free agent center with the team for the foreseeable future. According to Newsday’s Andrew Gross, there are some developments in that story.
As per Grosss, the expectation is that Barzal will sign a bridge deal. The terms are likely to be either two-years or three-years at around $7 million per season.
Clearly, this is a raise over the $925K base salary he made on his entry-level deal, but everyone expected to see the star get a huge bump in salary. The question would be whether or not the Islanders would try to get him locked in long-term now or whether the two sides would agree on something shorter-term until league revenues potentially went back up.
This is probably a smart bet for the Islanders considering they still aren’t exactly sure what they have in Barzal. There’s no denying his skill, but is he the 85-point per season rookie that got the NHL world talking? Or, is he more the 60 – 65 point guy that showed up for the Islanders the last two seasons? A two-year bridge deal will likely give both sides a better idea of his average and thus what he’s worth on a long-term deal.
What Will The Specifics of the Bridge Deal Be?
What will be interesting is how the Islanders and Barzal will construct the specifics of the new deal. New qualifying offer rules dictate that the required tender is the lower of 120% of the AAV or whatever the salary on the final season winds up being. As such, teams have been backloading contracts for the benefit of the player. If the Islanders do so here, the money will be higher in the second season of the contract bringing his next qualifying offer around $8 million.
As for timing, when the Islanders sign Barzal matters too. If the team wants to get his deal done now and before they place recently-retired defenseman Johnny Boychuk on LITR, they’ll need to move some players around. Names like Andrew Ladd, Thomas Hickey, and Leo Komarov will either be waived or sent down to the minors. Goaltender Ilya Sorokin could also go down temporarily to help create some cap flexibility.
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