The start of the 2016-17 was going to usher in a new era of youth for the New York Islanders. Both of their first round picks from the 2015 draft made the team out of camp. Neither have made an impact, and what’s worse, it’s not their fault.
Nothing was more exciting leading up to the New York Islanders 2016-17 season than having their two first round picks from the 2015 NHL draft make the team out of training camp. It wasn’t just that Mathew Barzal and Anthony Beauvillier made the team.
It wasn’t just that Mathew Barzal and Anthony Beauvillier made the team. It was that they forced the team to ditch recent free agent acquisition, PA Parenteau. A player accustomed to playing alongside John Tavares and was no slouch with 41 points on an absolutely terrible Toronto Maple Leafs team.
These kids must be something special if they can force the team into such a huge decision before a puck is even dropped on the regular season. But now 16 games into the season, and it seems like the youth movement failed.
And it’s not the kids fault.
Barzal Gets Bounced
Mathew Barzal never really got a good shot at a full-time NHL spot. After securing a spot on the active roster he only suited up for two games with the Islanders. Spending most of his time wearing a suit in the press box than a jersey on the ice.
In his last on-ice foray he was guilty of taking one of the dumbest penalties I’ve seen when he played the puck while still standing in the penalty box. I know I roasted him for it. He deserved to be roasted. But forced to the press box for the next two weeks was severe.
Two games it took for Garth Snow to think: “Maybe he isn’t ready”. Meanwhile, Parenteau is scoring goals in New Jersey.
Did Barzal commit a terrible mistake? Yeah, it was a stupid penalty to take, and it wreaked of immaturity or a kid who’s letting the occasion get to him.
But that’s what 19-year-old players in their first pro season do, they make mistakes. It’s a teaching moment. It’s what veterans on the team are for. It’s what a coach is for.
But instead, Barzal sat there in the press box and sat there. Until he was finally sent back to Seattle. On Nov. 9. Ending his involvement with the team for the time being. Anyone else see shades of Nino Neidereitter in this little scenario? Because that’s all I can think of.
If Barzal was a question of “sent back without a fair trail”, Anthony Beauvillier is a case of wasted opportunity.
Beauvillier, unlike Barzal, is going to get paid his full NHL salary this season. He’s earned it. After making the team out of camp he’s gone on to put up five points in 12 games. But since hitting that 10 game plateau something odd happened.
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First, he was sent to the press box for two games. It wasn’t due to injury, at least as far as the public was told. It was just that Alan Quine was preferred, for some reason. Quine’s a fine player, but Beauvillier is clearly the more exciting and dynamic of the two.
Secondly, Beauvillier’s ice-time has been significantly reduced. In his first game back from his suits sabbatical against Florida, Beauvillier had a team low 7:20 minutes of ice time. In the 4-0 loss to the Lightning just a few days later, Beauvillier, again, had a team-low 12:01 minutes of ice time.
We know coach Capuano isn’t necessarily down with the youth. But with the way things have gone for this team a shake up in strategy or ideological approach to youth might be in order. Why not? What’s to lose?
There’s still time for Beauvillier to be given a more meaningful place in this team. But, by that same notion, there`s plenty of time to make it worse. Between both Beauvillier’s diminishing role and Barzal’s relegation to the WHL, the 2016-17 youth movement has failed. Not that the kids have failed. Rather, the organization has failed to set these kids up for success.