After a long, quiet summer, Islanders fans finally have news to talk about. Not only did the team sign Derick Brassard, it re-signed Anthony Beauvillier on Wednesday, August 28 as well. His first contract extension after his standard three-year entry-level agreement is a 2-year deal at $2.1 million per.
But now that he’s officially on the roster, where will he be placed?
Although he was the last to re-sign, Beauvillier received the highest salary of the New York Islanders’ RFAs this season. On one hand, the amount of money taken out of the dwindling salary cap shows the team values him; but on the other hand, the length of time he took to re-sign could imply dissatisfaction on either (or both) his part or management’s part.
Last season, Beau bounced between the top and bottom lines, splitting time on a line with Mat Barzal and on the third line with Valtteri Filppula. He only had 28 points (18 goals, 10 assists) at the end of the regular season. In November, he scored his first hat trick against the Rangers, and in the playoffs, he had one goal and one assist in all eight games. No matter which line he played on, his performance seemed held back. While each players’ numbers dipped last season under Barry Trotz’s new system, Beauvillier’s numbers were not very high to begin with. In the previous season, he only had 36 total points (21 goals, 15 assists).
In his time with the Islanders, Beauvillier has consistently played the right-wing, even though he was a natural center in the minor leagues. The position change doesn’t seem like such a problem since he does have such great chemistry with Barzal, also a natural center. While playing on the top lines, he shows off his good hands and quick skating abilities in bursts of speed to follow the play.
Similarly, on the third line, Beauvillier showed chemistry on Filppula’s wing and used his speed to charge up-ice after a teammate dug out the puck. This year, Beau and Brassard have the potential for great chemistry since they often play together in Montreal summer leagues. In interviews after his signing, Brassard said Beauvillier was a large factor in his decision to join the Isles.
Beau is also skilled at pick-pocketing slower players but often loses the puck as well. Likewise, he knows exactly where to stand in front of the net to finish a play but is easily shoved out of the way given his small size. Though he clearly knows the game well, he still has a very small presence on the ice after three years in the NHL. His problems, on both the first and third lines, could be solved if he put on more muscle-weight, bulked up a bit, and learned to fight. He doesn’t need to start dropping his gloves, but he does need to be able to fight for his net position.
With training camp approaching, Beau needs to prove himself once again. It is unlikely that many established players will be replaced by prospects this year, but the possibility for Beauvillier is looming.
Though many of the players on the team are good rather than great and came together last year to pull off the unexpected, Lamoriello and Trotz are certainly looking to improve the team even more now that they have the lay of Long Island.
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