Current Team: Seattle Thunderbirds, WHL
Date of Birth: May 26, 1997
Place of Birth: Vancouver, British Columbia
Weight: 180 lbs
We're getting to the point in our prospect profiles where we get down to guys who have solid futures as NHL players, but maybe don't have the top-flight skills. Barzal is one of those players. He projects to be a very responsible two-way center who can also make some things happen on offense. He's not the biggest guy, but he also isn't afraid or incapable of matching up with bigger players. Barzal plays hard in all three zones, and at this stage makes his bones by constantly being in motion and in position to force--and capitalize on--mistakes. Not a pure goal-scorer, he uses his skills to make his teammates and his team better. He's not going to be a #1 center most likely, but he can be a #2 in the right situation and looks to be a very good #3 for a long time in the NHL.
Matthew Barzal is an offensive forward with very good skating abilities. Has tremendous puck-handling and is poised with the puck, while looking for the perfect pass-option using his strong vision. Owns an excellent wrist shot with a remarkable release. Barzal reads the plays well, looking for interceptions and is not afraid to block shots, playing a reliable two-way game. A complete player with strong hockey sense. - Elite Prospects
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. - Shawn Reznik, The Hockey Writers
Difference maker may sum up Mathew. He not only wants to be one, he is one. Always in the 'guts' of the action and he has the puck so much during the course of a game. Smart and really understands what is unfolding and is both quick to take advantage yet patient to let it unfold. Exudes confidence and with a very good skill set, that confidence leads to productivity, both for him and the team. - Craig Button, TSN
A Good Fit in Columbus?
I don't think so, and that's not a knock on Barzal. I think he's a redundant player for the Blue Jackets, as we're already flush with good two-way centers who are very young. He would be a bit of a reach at #8, though center depth is never a bad thing to have. That said, the Jackets already have guys who play the same style of game in the NHL and in the system.
Barzal in Action