Beauvillier played a team-low 7:16 in all situations on Sunday before a hit from behind by the Devils’ Nathan Bastian sent him lipping to the Islanders locker room. We didn’t see Beauvillier for the remainder of the Devils game, and as is customary with NHL injuries, he has not spoken to the media.
Unfortunately for the Islanders, the injury has come right as their schedule gets busy. For the next two weeks, the Isles will play at least every other night, and they embark on their first true road trip of the 2020-21 season starting tomorrow in Washington, D.C.
So how does a team already sorely needing offense from its wings to replace a top-six winger?
Islanders can’t replace Beau
Finding a full-blown replacement for Anthony Beauvillier seems pretty unlikely, obviously. If the Islanders had another winger with skills comparable to Beau’s just laying around, that player would be in the lineup.
Provided Beauvillier can’t return for a few games, the most ideal scenario would be one in which Barry Trotz tinkers with his lines and gives some of the Islanders prospects a chance to fill a role.
We’ve already seen Kieffer Bellows dress in four of the first five Islanders games this season, and Michael Dal Colle played on Sunday.
I would love to see what Oliver Wahlstrom could do playing on a line with Josh Bailey and Brock Nelson. Wahlstrom played in nine NHL games during the 2019-20 season.
Like most of the new generation of NHL’ers, Wahlstrom is a skilled winger who has good hands and possesses some great offensive vision. Only 19-years-old at the time, those skills showed through in Wahlstrom’s 19-20 shifts, even in the sheltered role Barry Trotz played him in.
What sets Wahlstrom apart is his NHL-level shot. In his article for The Athletic, “2020 NHL organizational rankings: No. 27 New York Islanders” (subscription required) Corey Pronman called Wahlstrom “a shooter who can score from range with a hard, accurate shot.”
In the same article, Pronman also noted “He can pick corners, but also passes the puck very well, and this makes him a great power-play weapon.”
Pronman listed Wahlstrom as the Islanders’ number two prospect in that article, which released in late August of 2020.
The time is now for Barry Trotz to let Wahlstrom earn his way into the Islanders lineup. He brings a dangerous set of offensive skills to the ice and can operate on the power-play. That power-play time could prove especially important when considering that Trotz doesn’t seem comfortable giving his young guys much 5v5 ice time. Just look at the positive impact on Noah Dobson’s TOI by the minutes he’s seen on the man advantage.
Anthony Beauvillier is day-to-day, so there’s a chance that he dresses for Tuesday’s matchup against the Washington Capitals. But, if he doesn’t, Barry Trotz will have to find someone to fill a role on that second line.
It’s going to be difficult to replace Beau, and Wahlstrom won’t be able to replace everything Beau brings to the table. But what he can do is bring his skills to the Islanders lineup and fill a gap where one has been left.