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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Matt Barzal the next Ryan Nugent-Hopkins?

In our opinion, there is nobody better than Matt Barzal right now in the 1997 age group.  He first turned heads at the prestigious Quebec Peewee International tournament a couple years ago when he ran away with the tournament scoring race by a wide margain against some of the best kids his age in the world.  He followed that up with an appearance at the Western Canada Bantam Championships with the BWC as an under aged 12 yr old player and did very well, not looking out of place at all.  Then this year, he was simply fantastic as a first year player in bantam.  So what is next?  Here is an article done by the Winnipeg Free Press a little while back, enjoy!

Winnipeg Free Press
Though he's just 13 years old, Matthew Barzal is a veteran of hockey's spotlight.

But scouts from the Western Hockey League taking in the action this weekend are going to have to wait. Barzal was born in 1997 and won't be eligible until next year for the WHL's bantam draft.

"Matthew is very gifted. He sees the ice extremely well and understands the game at a level that is so high for his age," said John Batchelor, Burnaby head coach.

"People ask me to explain it. I say it's like he sees the game like you if you are sitting in row 40 and you can see how the game breaks down and the plays you should be making. Well he sees that at full speed on the ice. He's just phenomenal as far as ability to read the ice."

Last year when he was 12, Barzal played in this tournament when Burnaby hosted and the Winnipeg Monarchs won it.

At the 2010 Quebec International Peewee Hockey Tournament, Barzal was the tournament's top scorer with 22 points in seven games, joining a historic group of top players from past tournaments including Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux and Guy Lafleur.

"He reminds me a lot of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins," Batchelor said, referring the former Burnaby player now with the WHL's Red Deer Rebels, where he was third this season in WHL scoring with 106 points.

"He was first overall (2008 WHL draft) and he's got a good chance to go first overall in the NHL."

The 2011 NHL entry draft will be held June 24-25 in St. Paul, Minn.

"To be compared to (Nugent-Hopkins) is just an honour. He's so good," said a poised and polite Barzal. "I try not to worry about any of it (attention), stay positive and try not to listen to that kind of stuff. I try to keep things simple and focus on doing what I can for my team. It's a great program here (Burnaby)."

courtesy - Winnipeg Free Press

* It will be interesting to see where Barzal ends up playing next season.  It seems to be up in the air at this point as to whether he'll return to BWC or take his talents to Shattock St. Mary's south of the border

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