Mathew Barzal has taken Isles Country, and the entire NHL by storm this season. The 20-year-old is the expected Calder Trophy winner, and he has superstar written all over him.
But that doesn't mean Barzal's rookie season hasn't come with any tribulation.
Head coach Doug Weight has made it public that he needs to rein in Barzal at times, as he has the tendency to get fancy at times. He tries to get too creative, which in turn, has created turnovers just like the one against the Oilers Thursday where Connor McDavid stole the puck away, and Barzal had to bring him down on a breakaway for a penalty.
Weight hasn't held back when addressing Barzal, but the coach said his star pupil takes the criticism very well.
"He wants to do the right things and he wants to learn," Weight told Newsday's Neil Best.
"So he's in there the next day and he's always the guy that first comes up to [assistant Scott Gomez] and then to me and says, 'I screwed up. I don't know what I was thinking. I got excited.'"
Though Barzal owns up to his mistakes, Weight wants to see these instances farther apart, or even better, not at all.
"Those have to come farther between, but any time you have a [John] Tavares or a [Josh] Bailey or a guy who has that creativeness, they're going to try things," Weight said.
Barzal recalled taking out McDavid that forced a penalty shot in overtime. Luckily, the ensuing penalty shot hit the post, but Weight didn't care. He benched Barzal for the rest of the OT period, and for the shootout.
Barzal said it simply isn't something that was necessary in crunch time.
"It's not something I should be doing in overtime, especially in a big game," Barzal said. "[Weight] didn't have to say anything. I mean, I deserved to not play the rest of that overtime. That was a bad turnover and a lazy turnover.
"There's a difference between turning the puck over on a hard turnover, trying to make a good play, and just trying to be fancy."
However, Barzal knows that Weight trusts him to make the big play because of his natural skill to get the puck either to the net, or in it.
"I'm a creative player, and I think Dougie knows that. He does a great job of putting me in situations where I'll have the best chance of succeeding."
As for Weight, he reiterated to the media something that Barzal already knows: He isn't going to go easy on him anytime soon.
"What you say as a coach is: 'I'm not going away,'" Weight noted. "So every day you're going to see it and every day you're going to talk about it -- good, bad, great. You're going to talk about it. And he's receptive, so that makes it easy."
Barzal has shined in his rookie year with 69 points (18 goals, 51 assists) in 69 games this season. He leads all rookies in points and assists this year.