At the end of last season, Anthony Beauvillier was on fire for the New York Islanders. In his last six games, he scored five goals. Now, in 2018-19 he’s as far from last season’s form as possible.
Half-way through the 2017-18 NHL season, Anthony Beauvillier was demoted to the AHL by the New York Islanders. With only seven points through 31 games, Beauvillier was underperforming. So the former first-round pick form 2015 was sent to the AHL.
He lasted only a few days in the AHL before injuries forced the Islanders to recall Beauvillier. The same injuries put Beauvillier on a line with buddy Mathew Barzal. And Beauvillier exploded. In his remaining 40 games Beauvillier scored 29 points.
It was a pace of 0.725 points per game. Over the course of a full 82 game season that’s a 60 point return. Placing Anthony Beauvillier with Mathew Barzal to start out the 2018-19 season just made sense. But four games into the season Beauvillier isn’t generating anything.
In game four of the 2018-19 season against the Nashville Predators, Barry Trotz pulled Beauvillier from his top line spot next to Mathew Barzal.
If last year is evidence enough, we know that Anthony Beauvillier responds to this type of move by the team. After that demotion to the AHL from last season, Beauvillier became an entirely new player.
What the Islanders need from Beauvillier, according to coach Barry Trotz, is for him to just play his game. Don’t force it.
Obviously, that’s easier said than done. It’s easy to see how Beauvillier can feel stressed by a lack of production.
First, both his linemates in Mathew Barzal and Josh Bailey have started the 2018-19 season right where they left off last season. Barzal picked up his fifth point of the season against Nashville, while Bailey is still on for a point-per-game with four points in four games.
Secondly, just like the rest of the team, Beauvillier is out to prove that the Islanders shouldn’t have been written off before a puck was dropped. Not scoring or contributing offensively in four straight games plays into that negative narrative.
And finally, unlike fellow 2015 draftee Mathew Barzal, this is a contract year for Beauvillier. With Barzal going back to the WHL in 2016-17 the first year of his ELC slid to 2017-18. Beau was still with the Islanders and so his ELC expires this season.
Hopefully, Barry Trotz continues to put Beauvillier in a position where he can succeed. At least for the time being. Sending him down to the third line against Nashville certainly sent Beauvillier a message.
Trotz should give Beauvillier game five against the Anaheim Ducks before coming up with a more permanent solution for the Islanders top line. Give Beauvillier the chance to “try to relax” before mixing it up.
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Of course, with the way the New York Islanders played against the Nashville Predators no one would hold it against Barry Trotz if he puts his lines through the blender. But with the way Anthony Beauvillier responded last season, it’s worth trying it again now.