Islanders forward Mathew Barzal will make his NHL debut Saturday night against the Capitals, head coach Jack Capuano told Newsday's Arthur Staple.
Barzal, 19, will take the place of forward Anthony Beauvillier, who played in his first professional game against the Rangers. Beauvillier recorded his first assist but also took a minor penalty in the 5-3 loss.
Barzal is also expected to play on the team's top power-play unit.
According to Staple, Ryan Strome will also play on the wing after mostly playing at center throughout the preseason and training camp.
Goaltender Thomas Greiss will be making his first start of the season in place of Jaroslav Halak.
I'm glad Barzal will get a look, and I'm excited to see if he runs with the opportunity of getting time with the first power-play unit, but I'm a little confused as to why Strome was only given one game at center. As a few people have noted on Twitter, all summer we heard how Strome will be more effective at his natural position.
I thought Strome had a strong game in the opener, so I don't think he did anything that would warrant a move back to wing. If anything, Brock Nelson probably makes the most sense to move to the wing, which would allow both Barzal and Strome to play center.
It's a curious move, and I wonder how it'll play out. I guess we'll see in Washington...