TORONTO -- Mathew Barzal has reached another gear this season.

And if you don't believe what his stats say or weren't convinced by his performance during the NHL All-Star Skills at 2024 NHL All-Star Weekend, just listen to what other All-Stars have to say about the New York Islanders forward.

"Obviously, he is super skilled; there's no secret," Edmonton Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl said. "I don't think anybody underestimated his skill, ever. I'm not surprised that he was up there with those guys."

The Islanders play the Tampa Bay Lightning at UBS Arena on Thursday (8 p.m. ET; ESPN) and Barzal has 52 points (14 goals, 38 assists) in 49 games, tied with defenseman Noah Dobson for first on the team and giving him an NHL career-high 1.06 points per game. New York is fourth in the Metropolitan Division, four points behind the third-place Philadelphia Flyers.

In the new-look skills competition, which had 12 of the top players competing against each other for a $1 million prize, Barzal finished fifth, behind Oilers captain Connor McDavid, Colorado Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar and Toronto Maple Leafs forwards Auston Matthews and William Nylander. He had a chance to win the whole thing but got tripped up on the mini-goal section of the final event, the obstacle course.

Still, he left an impression.

NHL EDGE: Barzal's ability on the rush

"I think everybody around the League knows it," Boston Bruins forward David Pastrnak said of Barzal's skill. "He's a great skater and his edge work is amazing."

Barzal had a goal in a 3-2 win at the Maple Leafs on Monday, giving him seven points (two goals, five assists) in his past six games.

"I appreciate (the recognition from players around the NHL)," Barzal said over the weekend. "I feel like [the skill has] always been there … but I do feel like my actual raw play is probably the best it's been in my career. The last 5-6 games have been five or six of the best games of my career. Overall, just backchecking, takeaways, taking the puck to the net."

Barzal acknowledged the correlation between his strong stretch and Hockey Hall of Fame goalie Patrick Roy replacing Lane Lambert as Islanders coach Jan. 20.

"I'd be lying if I said it wasn't huge; he is the man, truly," Barzal said. "So much respect for him. Not that I don't have respect for every coach in the NHL, but it's Patrick Roy; three Conn Smythe (trophies), four Stanley Cup (titles). And even just his message early on to our team and to me personally just meant a lot. It's cliche, but you want to run through a wall for him."

Per NHL EDGE stats, Barzal ranks eighth in 20-plus mph speed bursts (204) this season. He's averaging the most shots on goal per game (3.04) of his NHL career, well better than his rate entering this season (2.28 from 2017-18 to 2022-23). He's been the Islanders' No. 1 center for most of his career, including under Barry Trotz, when they reached the Eastern Conference Final in 2020 and 2021, and for most of his time under Lambert prior to this season.

The trade for center Bo Horvat on Jan. 30, 2023, and Barzal's subsequent shift to wing, has taken the pressure off. He's morphing into a player that can reach his peak offensive potential while playing in a new system with many of the same players from those deep runs through the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

"I love to hear that," Roy said with a laugh after hearing how Barzal wants to run through a wall. "I was lucky enough to have a guy like (Nathan) MacKinnon and guys like (Gabriel) Landeskog when I was in Colorado. We'll let [Barzal] play his game freely, but also there are fundamentals that are important to our structure. I think he's been buying into that -- that's the huge thing."

Barzal finished second to McDavid in the fastest skater and stick-handling events, third in the passing challenge and tied for third in the one-on-one shootout. Although he got tripped up in the final event, going toe-to-toe with McDavid opened even more eyes around the NHL.

"(Barzal's) a very smooth-skating playmaker, but he's also lethal shooting the puck, too," Makar said. "He can do those things the same as a lot of the top guys in the League that'll catch you off guard, so as a defenseman especially, you have to be aware."

Barzal had three assists for Team Matthews in its 6-5 shootout win against Team Hughes in the semifinal of the All-Star Game on Saturday and three points (one goal, two assists) in a 7-4 win against Team McDavid to help his team to the championship.

"Fun player to watch and hard player to play against," said Flyers forward Travis Konecny, who played with Barzal at different events during their childhood in Canada. "He's a great player, and when you see the skills stuff. He's got all the tools." independent correspondent Dave McCarthy contributed to this report