Anthony Beauvillier might get a chance to play center this season. Can he succeed at filling the gap left by Valtteri Filppula?
Speaking to Newsday on Thursday New York Islanders GM Lou Lamoriello indicated that Anthony Beauvillier could be in the running to be the team’s third-line center now that Valtteri Filppula has departed for the Detroit Red Wings during free agency.
From what Lou indicated, Casey Cizikas will continue to be the team’s fourth-line center with wingers Matt Martin and Cal Clutterbuck. It seems Barry Trotz won’t split them up. I can’t say I blame Trotz. The trio was incredibly effective in both ends of the ice for the New York Islanders.
But I’m still disappointed at the revelation. I figured Casey Cizikas could bring a lot more to the table than he did last season if given a more offensive assignment with more offensively minded wingers.
With Cizikas staying put, that leaves the third center spot open to someone else on the roster. And it seems Beau will get an audition.
Can Be Like-for-Like
Playing center isn’t anything new for Beauvillier. He played down the middle his entire junior career. And as he told NHL.com’s Brian Compton in 2017, it’s his preferred position. So can Beau replace Valtteri Filppula?
Just looking at Filppula’s base stats it’s entirely possible for Beau to fill Fillpula’s spot. Filppula scored 17 goals and 14 assists for 31 points. Beau scored 18 goals and ten assists for 28 points.
Things start to break down for Beau the second you go beyond his production. Filppula put up 31 points while playing primarily in the defensive zone with 57.7 percent of his shifts starting in the defensive zone. Beau was the opposite with 58.1 percent of his shifts starting in the offensive zone.
Then there are Beauvillier’s faceoff numbers. Over his three-year NHL career, he’s averaged 42.5 percent in the faceoff dot. That’s not great, but Filppula held a 42.3 percent efficiency last season. To be fair to Filppula, Beau only took 56 faceoffs last season and averaged 45.6 percent.
It’s possible Beau can be better on the dot or at the very least a like-for-like replacement with Filppula.
Looking at his numbers it seems that Beau can at least match what Filppula brought to the table. At least when it comes to his offensive production.
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But can Anthony Beauvillier produce even when playing a primarily defensive role? He’ll have to prove to Barry Trotz and Lou Lamoriello that he can during training camp if he wants to get a spot down the middle.