Welcome to another WHL Best of the 2010s feature where we profile the best WHL players from the 2009-10 season all the way to the 2019-20 season. Players are judged based on what they did in each division. This means if a player spent time in multiple divisions, their placement will be judged based on what they did separately while in each division. Don’t forget to vote on our Twitter page, @WHLonA51 to help determine which player will be crowned the best WHL player of the 2010s. We hope you enjoy.
A dynamic center, Mathew Barzal was a treat to watch during his four-year WHL career with the Seattle Thunderbirds. During his 202 regular season games, he scored 63 goals and recorded 278 points. He not only led Team Canada to multiple medals but also led Seattle to the Memorial Cup tournament.
Barzal started his WHL career during the 2013-14 season. In 59 games, the rookie posted 14 goals and 54 points. He was also selected to participate in the World U18s for Canada, winning Bronze after recording four points in seven games.
Year two was a stronger season for Barzal as he finished the year with 57 points in just 44 games. He was once again selected for Team Canada at the World U18s, where he was named one of the three best Canadians in the tournament. Canada once again won Bronze, but this time he played a starring role with 12 points in seven games. He was also named to the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament team, winning Gold after a seven points in five game performance.
2015-16 saw Barzal once again take his game to another level, this time posting 27 goals and 88 points in 58 games. He also led Seattle on a long playoff run leading them all the way to the WHL finals with 26 points in 18 games. That season, he also was selected to Canada’s World Junior team positing three points in five games.
Barzal’s final WHL season is where everything came together. The Thunderbirds captain posted 69 assists and 79 points in just 41 games and helped lead Seattle to the Memorial Cup with 26 points in 16 games. For his efforts, he was named WHL Playoff MVP. At the International level, he helped Canada win Silver at the World Juniors after recording eight points in seven games. He was dynamic throughout his WHL career, not just for Seattle but also for Canada.
Few players get to chance to represent their country five times while in the WHL, but Barzal can add his name to that exclusive list. He made everyone around him better, which is why he was such a dangerous player for the Thunderbirds. An easy selection for our WHL Best of the 2010s list.