Two days into NHL Free Agency and the New York Islanders have not announced any signings. It’s no secret that one area that needs to be addressed is the hole on defense in Nick Leddy’s absence.
Many of the premier defenders that hit the market are long gone, and even the depth defender pool seems to be drying up as we speak. There are lower-tier defenseman still available, like former Islander Zdeno Chara, that could be a last resort if need be.
As the days go on, it seems that general manager Lou Lamoriello may need to trade for a defenseman.
Forward Anthony Beauvillier, currently a restricted free agent, appears to have some eyes on him, but it would be a mistake to see him dealt for someone who plays on the other side of the puck.
A move of that magnitude would hurt the Islanders more than help, especially if it would cost them a shot at a forward who could play a top-six role.
Despite Beauvillier’s streakiness throughout his career as an Islander, one thing is for sure. When he is hot, he becomes not just a goal-scorer, but a player that provides energy, momentum and has rare speed that would be hard to replace.
Heading into year six at the NHL level, Beauvillier is still learning and growing.
After scoring 21 goals in 71 games back in 2017-18, his second season in the NHL, Beauvillier went two years without being able to get back to that goal production of 0.30 goals per game. That was until last season.
Despite only playing in 47 of the Islanders’ 56 games, Anthony Beauvillier scored 15 goals, which was good for 0.31 goals per game. He was on pace to score 26 goals, which would have been a career-high. And that was in a shortened season full of goal droughts.
For a team in the Islanders who lost their top-line winger Jordan Eberle in the expansion draft, the offense is already a question mark.
Head coach Barry Trotz has emphasized a defensive structure that has been the leading factor in the Islanders winning close games, but offensive production is still a need.
Losing Beauvillier would not help in that regard.
What Beauvillier has shown over his career is that he is a goal-scorer. While statistics support that statement, one thing the Quebec-native has been with the Islanders is clutch. His timely goals have helped the Islanders win some pivotal games, whether it be in the regular season or the postseason.
Out of the 81 goals he has scored over his regular-season career, 16 of them have decided the outcome of a game. That hovers around 20-percent.
The Islanders have scored 120 goals over the last two playoff runs, ending in back-to-back semifinal losses to the Tampa Bay Lightning. Beauvillier has contributed to 27 of those goals, with 14 goals and 15 assists. For the mathematicians out there, that’s 22.5 percent of the total offense.
Four of his 15 goals over the last two playoff runs have been game-winners (27 percent).
The most recent one was his Game 6 overtime winner in the semifinals on Nassau Coliseum ice to force a Game 7.
ANTHONY BEAUVILLIER! OT GAME WINNER! THERE WILL BE A GAME 7! pic.twitter.com/K2i0KdPumj
— Rob Taub (@RTaub_) June 24, 2021
With what Beauvillier has shown over his NHL career and what he showed last season, his production cannot be easily replicated by any of the depth pieces in the organization right now.
The only way moving Anthony Beauvillier makes sense is if there was a complementary deal in place to bring in a top-six forward to fill the hole Beauvillier would leave behind.