Matthew Barzal continues to turn heads at the IIHF World Junior Championship, and it led to him receiving a top accolade for the second consecutive year.
Barzal, along with the Ottawa Senators' Thomas Chabot and the Tampa Bay Lightning's Anthony Cirelli, was named as one of the tournament's top three players for Canada by the coaches.
This is the second consecutive year being named to the top-three for Barzal. According to Elite Prospects, no other Canadian has received the honor two years in a row since the award was first given out in 2007 (h/t to Corey Pronman).
Barzal has three goals and four assists and has a plus-3 rating on the ice in six tournament games. He and the rest of Team Canada will square off against Team USA in the tournament's gold medal game on Thursday.
Barzal has dazzled in this tournament. Pronman gushes about Barzal, and for good reason. He may not have done much to stand out in his two-game look, but Barzal projects as a great and highly-competitive two-way player, and that's exactly the type of guy teams need to win a championship. He's shown he has what it takes to be that and more in these games against the best Juniors has to offer, and it's really exciting to think about what he could be capable of at the NHL level.
It's easy to throw your hands up in the air in frustration with how this Islanders season has gone. But with Anthony Beauvillier performing as one of the team's best forwards (when they let him play, that is) and guys like Barzal waiting in the wings, there is plenty of reason to be optimistic about the future.