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Islanders prospect Barzal admits to being a ‘little star-struck’ last season

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Mathew Barzal had a brief glimpse of life in the NHL last season, before he was ultimately sent back to junior for the remainder of the campaign.

The 16th overall pick in 2015 played in two games for the Islanders and was then returned to Seattle, eventually becoming the most valuable player in the Western Hockey League playoffs — another promising development for the talented prospect forward.

The Islanders, who have 13 forwards under contract for next season, have stockpiled high-end talent up front, including Barzal. He made his debut last season, as did Josh Ho-Sang, and there may be opportunities for the younger players to crack the roster for 2017-18.

“Last year, I was maybe a little star-struck sometimes playing against [Nicklas] Backstrom and [Alex] Ovechkin and those guys,” Barzal recently told NHL.com. “This year, I just want to hopefully come in and not kind of feel that, just feel like I belong and that I can really play with those guys.”

Just over two years into his time with the Islanders, Barzal was recently mentioned in trade rumors involving Colorado’s Matt Duchene.

From Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet:

There’s been criticism of the way Colorado’s handled this. I do think everyone — including Duchene — would benefit from a fresh start, but the Avalanche need this deal. The Ryan O’Reilly trade didn’t work, and you can’t move two of those talents without getting some kind of win. They are looking for young players with term, and I think the guys they’ve targeted include Mathew Barzal and Ilya Sorokin from the Islanders; Brandon Carlo or Charlie McAvoy from the Bruins; Mattias Ekholm from the Predators. (Before someone from Barstool comes at me, I don’t think the McAvoy conversation was a long one.)

Such a deal — if it were to ever happen in the future — would give New York two of the top three players selected from the 2009 NHL Draft, and highly talented No. 1 and 2 centers in John Tavares and Duchene.

Tavares has one year left on his deal, with an annual average value of $5.5 million, and the Islanders need to get him secured into a contract extension. Duchene has two years left on his deal, which has an AAV of $6 million, before he would be eligible for unrestricted free agency.

Meanwhile, Barzal still has all three years left on his entry-level contract, according to CapFriendly, and shows plenty of promise based on his production in junior.

Islanders add Buchberger as assistant coach

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For the second day in a row the New York Islanders made an addition to head coach Dough Weight’s coaching staff.

After hiring Fred Brathwaite on Monday to serve as the team’s goalie coach, the Islanders announced on Tuesday that Kelly Buchberger has also been added as an assistant. Buchberger had previously been working for the Edmonton Oilers and was their vice president of player development for the past two seasons.

“Kelly adds years and years of NHL coaching and management experience to our staff,” Weight said in a team statement. “He is a tireless worker who commands respect behind the bench and in the locker room. I’m thrilled to welcome him to the organization.”

Buchberger played 17 seasons in the NHL with the Edmonton Oilers, Atlanta Thrashers, Los Angeles Kings, Phoenix Coyotes and Pittsburgh Penguins. He was a member of two Stanley Cup winning teams in Edmonton.

 

Islanders sign Gudlevskis to one-year, two-way contract

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The New York Islanders and restricted free agent goaltender Kristers Gudlevskis agreed to terms on Tuesday on a one-year, two-way contract according to the team.

The deal will reportedly be worth $650,000 if Gudlevskis is in the NHL and $250,000 if he is in the American Hockey League.

The Islanders acquired Gudlevskis from the Tampa Bay Lightning this summer in exchange for Carter Verhaeghe.

The 24-year-old netminder has appeared in just five games (three regular season, two playoffs) in his NHL career to this point but has stopped 88 of the 93 shots he has faced in those limited minutes. He spent most of the 2016-17 season playing for the Syracuse Crunch where he recorded an .897 save percentage in 37 games.

With Jaroslav Halak and Thomas Greiss on the NHL roster Gudlevskis is simply organizational depth at this point and should be expected to open the year in the AHL, barring injury to one of the other two.

Fred Brathwaite joins Islanders as goalie coach

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Former NHL goaltender Fred Brathwaite is the new goalie coach of the New York Islanders, the team announced on Monday afternoon.

Brathwaite, who spent the past three seasons working as the goalie coach for Canada’s under-18 junior team, will replace Mike Dunham in that role. Dunham had been the Islanders’ goalie coach for the past 10 seasons.

“Fred’s experiences at just about every level of hockey make him a tremendous addition to our hockey club,” Islanders coach Doug Weight said in a team statement announcing the more. “Not only has he had a solid NHL career, but he’s also worked with some of the top net-minder’s coming out of Hockey Canada. He’s ready for this next step and we look forward to him working with our organization’s goalies.”

Brathwaite spent nine seasons in the NHL as a goalie with the Edmonton Oilers, Calgary Flames, St. Louis Blues and Columbus Blue Jackets, appearing in 254 games. He posted an 81-99-37 record with a .901 save percentage. Along with his playing days in the NHL he also spent several years playing overseas in the KHL as well as Germany.

 

Key players from Penguins, Sabres, Lightning headline salary arbitration list

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The NHLPA released a list of players who are filing for salary arbitration during this off-season on Wednesday.

It’s important to note that arbitration hearings rarely happen, and with good reason, as they can be harsh situations that may lead to hard feelings between a player and his team. Hearings take place July 20-Aug. 2, with a 48-hour window for verdicts to be made.

Also, the deadline for club-elected salary arbitration is set for tomorrow (July 6) at 5 p.m. ET.

Another key note: offer sheets are not an option for players who file for arbitration. Now, onto the list, which began with 30 players and is now down to 28:

TORONTO (July 5, 2017) – Thirty players have elected Salary Arbitration:

Arizona Coyotes

Jordan Martinook

Boston Bruins

Ryan Spooner

Buffalo Sabres

Nathan Beaulieu

Johan Larsson

Robin Lehner

Calgary Flames

Micheal Ferland

Colorado Avalanche

Matt Nieto

Detroit Red Wings

Tomas Tatar

Edmonton Oilers

Joey LaLeggia

Los Angeles Kings

Kevin Gravel

Minnesota Wild

Mikael Granlund

Nino Niederreiter

Montreal Canadiens

Alex Galchenyuk (signed for three years; more on that here)

Nashville Predators

Viktor Arvidsson

Marek Mazanec

Austin Watson

New York Islanders

Calvin de Haan

New York Rangers

Jesper Fast (signed, read about the deal here)

Mika Zibanejad

Ottawa Senators

Ryan Dzingel

Jean-Gabriel Pageau

Pittsburgh Penguins

Brian Dumoulin

Conor Sheary

St. Louis Blues

Colton Parayko

Tampa Bay Lightning

Tyler Johnson

Ondrej Palat

Vancouver Canucks

Reid Boucher

Michael Chaput

Vegas Golden Knights

Nate Schmidt

Winnipeg Jets

Connor Hellebuyck