Islanders prospect Matt Barzal and the Seattle Thunderbirds defeated the Regina Pats 4-3 in Game 6 in overtime to give the franchise its first WHL title in its 40-year history.
Barzal, who scored seven goals and 18 assists in 16 games in the postseason, was named the WHL playoff MVP.
With the WHL title, the Thunderbirds will join the QMJHL's Saint John Sea Dogs, and the OHL's Erie Otters and Windsor Spitfires, in the four-team Memorial Cup tournament.
Barzal, 19, was a first round pick by the Islanders in the 2015 draft. He made the team out of training camp this season and appeared in two games before being returned to Juniors.
Barzal is the crown jewel of the Islanders' prospect pool, and he really showed why in these WHL playoffs. It's easy to get excited about what Barzal will eventually be capable of at the NHL level, and I think if the Isles resist the temptation to include him in any deal for a second line centerman (like Matt Duchene), they'll be rewarded for it.
Whether or not the team will deem Barzal ready for the Opening Night roster next season - and if they do, if they actually play him this time - is another thing entirely. Although with the way Anthony Beauvillier and Josh Ho-Sang provided a spark to this roster last season, maybe Garth Snow will be more open minded to Barzal skipping the AHL and leaning on him to play big NHL minutes out of the gate next season.
Whatever they decide to do, let's just hope that Barzal is able to do here what he's proven he can do his entire career: win. As he has shown for Seattle, he's a difference maker, and that's what Islanders fans hope they'll be getting in Brooklyn.