The New York Islanders’ Anthony Beauvillier has taken a major step this year, and one of the keys to that can be attributed to his penalty kill usage.
Since Anthony Beauvillier entered the league, he has been up-and-down in his consistency. He has shown flashes of brilliance juxtaposed to stretches of playing with absolutely no confidence for the New York Islanders. One thing that has shown to build his confidence and offensive output has been his time on the penalty kill.
First let’s remember that, as Brendan Burke reminded us on opening night, Beau has been the youngest Islanders player on the opening night active roster for four consecutive seasons. He has literally been thrown to the fire since he showed up, and as a young player that can wreak havoc on your psyche.
(but also keep in mind he’s right on track with his development in spite of that)
For a player with extremely good quickness and an active stick (fifth amongst forwards in takeaways) his penalty kill usage has been low, but as he was young, less disciplined and lacked strength it was understandable.
But for me the penalty kill always felt like a good place to see him quickly progress.
He has averaged 0:21 of penalty kill time per game for his career, but if you look deeper at the numbers it tells a fascinating story.
- 2016-17: 0:04 PK time per game / .36 points per game, +1
- 2017-18: 0:45 PK time per game / .51 points per game, +2
- 2018-19: 0:00 PK time per game / .35 points per game, +1
- 2019-20: 1:01 PK time per game / .67 points per game, +6 (current)
This year Barry Trotz has put a great deal more faith in Beauvillier’s defensive game, and I believe it is one of the key reasons for his increased confidence and strong offensive play.
When Beau gets more shorthanded time, his overall game is just better. I am not one to say that points tell the whole story, but the numbers above are hard to argue.
Of course there will still be arguments to the numbers. For one, he is seeing more ice time and notably more power-play time, so, therefore, his scoring will go up. Fair, but you can’t discount what a coach’s trust in a player will do for their confidence, especially when they’re young and that coach is Barry Trotz.
Also keep in mind that his defensive zone stats would contradict that since in his highest point-per-game seasons he has his highest percentage of defensive zone starts.
- 2016-17: 0:04 PK time per game / .36 points per game, +1 / 47.6% defensive zone start
- 2017-18: 0:45 PK time per game / .51 points per game, +2 / 51.1% defensive zone start
- 2018-19: 0:00 PK time per game / .35 points per game, +1 / 41.9% defensive zone start
- 2019-20: 1:01 PK time per game / .67 points per game, +6 (current) / 54% defensive zone start
This season Beauvillier is sixth in penalty kill time on ice per game (among 15 forwards with nine or more games played). Much like we saw with Brock Nelson last year, Barry Trotz values forwards playing a two-way game, and he will play them in all situations – even strength, penalty kill, power play, overtime, etc.
Brock Nelson had his best season and his coming out party last year when Trotz threw his full support behind him. Anthony Beauvillier appears to be this season’s Brock Nelson, and to no surprise, Barry Trotz has put Beau in the hip pocket of the player he should be learning from.
Nelson and Beauvillier have seen a lot of each other this year – Beau spends over 77% of his even-strength time next to Brock Nelson. And just like they did last night, he plays 100% of his OT ice time with Nelson.
If Beauvillier can continue this consistent, energetic, responsible two-way game and continue to progress like Brock Nelson has under Trotz, the Islanders have their second-line left wing. It may cost them more in two years when his contract ends, but his progress is a good thing for the Isles now, and moving forward.