Just about every single hockey fan thought the New York Islanders were doomed the second he decided to leave New York and join his hometown Toronto Maple Leafs. However, through 49 games this season the Islanders currently sit one point ahead of the Leafs in the overall standings and won the first of three meetings in Toronto, 4-0.
One of the reasons the Isles felt comfortable letting Tavares walk during the offseason was because they believed that Mat Barzal is going to be the real deal and the future of the team. Well, after putting up 85 points in 82 games as a rookie last season, the 21-year-old is showing that last year wasn’t a fluke and he’s not a product of playing with Tavares as he’s registered 14 goals and 45 points through 49 games.
Tavares leaving the team isn’t the only change they’ve made over the past year as they’ve also brought in a new coaching staff and general manager to lead the way, so Barzal could be referring to a few things. However, most people will probably look at it as a shot towards Tavares more than anything else.