As August approaches, questions remain about the New York Islanders’ opening night roster.
Anthony Beauvillier, has not accepted the qualifying offer that he was offered at this time last month. It’s expected, however, that he will still be sporting an Islanders uniform barring a blockbuster trade.
“I trust Philip and Kent (Hughes),” Beauvillier said to NHL.com about his next contract at his charity Spikeball tournament two weeks ago. “We’ll see how it’s going, I have no idea how it’s going to go. I’m not nervous about that. I know I will stay with the Islanders unless there is a major change. “
Beauvillier last season was inconsistent at best.
The 22-year-old recorded a low 18 goals and ten assists in 81 games played. On numerous occasions during the year, Beauvillier had trouble producing under new coach Barry Trotz. He lost his spot on the top line with friend and teammate Mathew Barzal early on, then demoted to the third line.
In spurts and in the postseason, coaches and the fans saw him as that rising youngster who went on a tear in the second half of the 2017-18 season; Beauvillier ended that season with 21 goals and 36 points. But even those flashes, combined with his drop in production, aren’t enough to show he can be trusted as a scoring threat.
Entering his fourth season as a pro, Beauvillier has reached a critical stage — he’s become expendable.
Beauvillier’s name has been floated for close to a year as trade bait. Some of that can be attributed to prospects in the team’s system — the Oliver Wahlstroms, Kieffer Bellows’, Josh Ho-Sangs and Michael Dal Colles — gunning to take his spot for the future. The Islanders are still in need of a goal scorer who can help elevate the offense.
With how the Islanders struggled mightily at times offensively last year, how they struck out on big fish Artemi Panarin when free agency opened and g.m. Lou Lamoriello yet to do anything of significance this offseason, the need for Beauvillier to become a big-time player has arrived.
The Islanders don’t have that elite sniper but they do have skilled forwards who can score, including Beauvillier. He is not the kind of player yet who can carry the offense like Barzal, Brock Nelson, Anders Lee or Jordan Eberle. But Beauvillier needs to be in the mix to be a consistent contributor for the team to continue winning. The whole taking a few weeks to get going image Beauvillier has taken on needs to be a thing of the past.
If the Isles are going to build off last year’s unexpected success, Beauvillier must come flying out of the gate.
He’s shown he can be a goal scorer — Beauvillier has scored 39 goals the last two seasons — and can be a dynamic top-six player when he wants to be. He’s got a knack for being around the net and his speed and crafty style have been on apparent at times that make you think he can be a 40-50 point guy in this league.
It will be interesting to see where Beauvillier is placed in the lineup when the season gets started, but there’s no question Trotz will be banking on big things from him.
Trotz acknowledged after the season ended that he wanted more punch upfront from his forward corps — the Islanders were 22nd in the league in goals with 223 and only had three 20-goal scorers, one being fourth-liner Casey Cizikas. And while that wasn’t directed specifically at Beauvillier, it probably wasn’t indirect either. Beauvillier producing at a top-six pace will give Trotz such much-needed security to where he won’t have to lean on one or two forwards to be the source of offense every game. Is it unreasonable for Beauvillier to be a 25-goal guy this year? No. Does he have to show he can do it without going through dry spells? Yes.
This season is setting up to be a big one for many individuals on the Isles. But some might not be bigger than Anthony Beauvillier. It’s his time to prove to the brass that they need him for the future and that he will be a force for years to come.
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