Mathew Barzal THW Close-Up:
Date of birth: 5/26/1997
Place of birth: Vancouver, BC, CAN
Ht: 6’0″ Wt: 181 lbs
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2015
THW The Next Ones Rankings (February): 7
THW War Room Rankings (March): 6
HockeyProspect.com (February): 17
Last Word On Sports (February): 12
Craig Button (March): 18
CS Final Rankings for North American skaters (January): 9
A steady riser in this year’s draft, Mathew Barzal is everything you want in a two-way center. He may not have the size (6’0″), but you wouldn’t know that by the way he plays. Not afraid to take on players much bigger than himself, Barzal is one of the most determined players I’ve watched all season.
The majority of hockey fans love to watch highlight reel goals and a sustained offensive pressure. Barzal can neutralize an opposition’s breakout with his hard work, positioning, and ability to read the play in all three zones. Barzal constantly has his feet moving and seems to be in the middle of every play capitalizing on loose pucks and dominating the transition game. He’s also relentless on the forecheck and backcheck.
I’ve lauded his defensive play, but now it’s time to look to his offensive game. Barzal has a nifty set of hands that he prefers using in and around the net. With impeccable vision around the ice, he loves to set up teammates for goals more than keeping the attention on himself. The BC-native has powerful legs that allow him to reach top speed in a few, quick bursts. His breakaway speed rivals some in his draft class.
While many see Barzal as having a lot of offensive upside, I see him as a premier two-way center who can be used at equally on the powerplay, as well as the penalty kill. It’s quite difficult to find players who are as gifted defensively as they are on the scoresheet.
Where Will He End Up In June:
Barzal very well could be selected in the bottom half of the top 10, but a safe range would be 11th-15th overall.
“A smart, creative player with a wide, strong, fluid stride…plays a 200-foot game…makes good decisions with the puck…has decent strength, and looks bigger than listed…shows flashes of dominating offensive skills, but need to do so with more consistency…not overly physical, but will engage in contact for the puck…shows his creativity, vision and playmaking ability on the power play…finds seams and open ice with his impressive senses…really doing well in his rookie WHL season…has high-end offensive NHL upside. (August 2014)”
“After an impressive WHL rookie season where Barzal showed he could produce, he entered his draft season with some jump scoring often. Unfortunately, a broken knee cap has kept him out of action for most of the season but he’s since returned and is eager to re-establish himself as one of the drafts best offensive talents. Barzal is an intelligent pivot and owns creative instincts. He’s always hovering around the puck looking to make a difference and with his slick puck skills and strong attacking skills, he usually finds a way. After returning from injury, Barzal went pointless in his first four games before putting up a four-assist game on January 30th and now has four goals and nine assists for 13 points over his last eight games. Barzal represents a potential Top 10 pick and will surely see his draft stock rise as he re-gains momentum in his play.”
Brendan Ross – Dobber Sports
“With 7 goals and 23 points in 22 games, Barzal was following up on a nice performance in the Ivan Hlinka tournament (7 points in 5 games, gold medal), with a strong start to the WHL season. Unfortunately some injuries have slowed him down though. The first overall pick in the 2012 WHL Bantam draft, Barzal is an outstanding skater, with top notch speed, great acceleration and outstanding pivots and edge work. He also has incredibly soft hands, great stick handling, and incredible hockey sense and intelligence. These skills alone would make him a dynamic offensive threat, but when you add in his great shot and excellent vision and play-making ability he is the total package as an offensive player. He does need to use that shot more, and would score more goals if he was a little more selfish. He has shown the willingness to play in the dirty areas of the ice, and shows flashes of adding a power game to his offensive finesse and skill after adding some weight this off-season.If he continues to grow and add that game, the sky is the limit for him both in the WHL and eventually the NHL.“
Ben Kerr – Last Word On Sports
Barzal has played for Team Canada twice. In 12 games overall, he’s scored 5 goals and 6 assists and while capturing a bronze and gold medal.
Risk: 1/5 Reward: 4/5
Top-six elite two-way forward that will be used in any situation.
Winning loose puck battles
Flaws/Aspects He Needs To Work On:
Fantasy Hockey Potential:
Offensive: 7/10 Defensive: 7/10
NHL Player Comparison:
– NHL comparison: Pavel Datsyuk
THW’s The Next Ones prospect profile template design architect: Chris Ralph