The New York Islanders may not be off to an ideal start, but the two 2015 draft-mates are developing right before our eyes.
Though it’s only a four-game sample, the two newest members of the New York Islanders are showing just how lethal they can be.
Watch out, a new duo is rounding the corner. No, it’s not the explosive firepower of Auston Matthews and William Nylander, or the cemented legacy of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.
It’s the up-and-coming duo maturing right before Islanders’ fans eyes.
Mathew Barzal and Anthony Beauvillier.
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Anthony Beauvillier made his NHL debut last season, scoring 29 points in a 66-game period of adjustment. Mathew Barzal on the other hand, played in only two of the 13 games he was on the team in 2016. Now a full-time member of the Islanders roster, Barzal has been a very skilled skater and puck-handler, creating plenty of time and space for his teammates.
But, just how high is the ceiling for either of these players?
High enough for General Manager Garth Snow to deal away Griffin Reinhart, an at-the-time sought after fourth-overall defensive prospect for a first-round pick — which would be used to draft Barzal — and a second round pick which would be dealt in conjunction with another second in exchange for the first, which would be used to select Beauvillier.
In just his first year with the team, Barzal has gained the confidence of Head Coach Doug Weight to take the reigns of the second-line center around Beauvillier and a rotating right-winger that most recently included Josh Bailey.
Both players have become dynamic puck-handling centers who posses tons of speed and skate with the finesse akin to Nick Leddy.
This season will be one to make a statement, with Barzal ready to put his awe in the rear-view mirror and Beauvillier ready to become far more comfortable in the NHL having played 66 games prior to the start of this season.
During each of their respective final years with their junior squads, both Beauvillier and Barzal nearly averaged two points a game, with Beauvillier scoring 79 points in 47 games and Barzal with the same total in 41 games.
As much as it hurts to say, the Pittsburgh Penguins have proven that the new Stanley Cup-winning formula lies in speed. Both of the new kids have that in spades and add the fiery Josh Ho-Sang to that mix and you have a new set of players ready to prove their worth on a team that’s struggled with secondary scoring for years.
Yes, the transition has been rough so far with the Islanders record standing at 1-2-1 in their first four games. Step away from that ledge, because these kids are doing all the little things right and there are going to be growing pains, make no mistake about it. That’s not to excuse the 0/15 powerplay or the number of giveaways from these kids.
However, it’s important to remember that Beauvy and Barzy are both 20 years old and Ho-Sang is 21. Between the three they have only 100 NHL games, less than two seasons. Mistakes will be made, and they will learn from those mistakes.
Behind star center John Tavares, there’s plenty of firepower brewing between Mathew Barzal and Anthony Beauvillier.