One thing Anthony Beauvillier has always tried to do is have fun.
The New York Islandersâ€™ forward wrote those exact words on his stick for every game played during the teamâ€™s run to the Eastern Conference Finals. But Beauvillier didnâ€™t just jot down that message for the sake of doing it. No, he actually lived by those words in the playoffs. And it was a joy to watch.
â€œI think itâ€™s more mental, itâ€™s confidence,â€ Islandersâ€™ head coach Barry Trotz said about the 23-year-old during the postseason.
Beauvillierâ€™s breakout performance â€” 14 points in 22 games â€” attracted a lot of attention, and not just from the locals. He became a household name in the playoffs. Most of it came early on in the bubble where he was the driving force in the Islanders steamrolling their way to the Conference semifinals. But it was clear throughout that the fourth-year pro had found a new level to his game.
â€œAnthony has grown is he understands that he can contribute in so many different ways, even if itâ€™s not on the score sheet. What happens is he ends up having a more complete game, more productive and heâ€™s not in his own head regarding production. I think thatâ€™s one of the things that a lot of young players have to get over so they can have success in this very demanding league. I think thatâ€™s where his growth has been,â€ Trotz added about Beauvillier.
— Rob Taub (@RTaub_) August 12, 2020
For Beauvillier personally, this was probably the best time for him to have the postseason he did.
At 23, heâ€™s still hasnâ€™t even reached so-called â€œveteranâ€ status, let alone his prime. Heâ€™s still a very young player in this league and very much an unfinished product. Then there was the debate as to whether or not he is a true top-six forward or just a player who is more suited as a middle-six piece. Thatâ€™s not even up for discussion anymore.
Beauvillier is a top-end forward.
Heading into next season too, Beauvillierâ€™s got a ton of momentum on his side to where he can truly become an elite player in this league and a big-time contributor for the Isles.
Speaking of the Islanders, Beauvillierâ€™s two-months of strong play signaled he is indeed one of the key assets to this current core which is not far off from a Stanley Cup. The fact remains: heâ€™s needed here long-term past just next season, where he will be a restricted free agent again.
Beauvillierâ€™s come a long way from beforeÂ this season began, where questions still remained about how he would fit in this year after he struggled under year one of Trotz.
Not only that, he showed he can be a reliable goal scorer and can perform in key situations.
Thereâ€™s 30-goal potential in Beauvillier whether people still canâ€™t see it. Heâ€™s already notched 21 tucks and 18 twice in his career. The Islanders too, who are still in a search for that proverbial sniper. And as much as that search has began already both internally and externally, Beauvillier has made it clear he could be the one to possibly take that role. Beauvillierâ€™s ability to step up â€” his relentless forecheck and consistency â€” as each game got more important also was a telling sign of his growth.
This postseason told us a lot about the Islanders as they look to take the next step. It told us a lot about Beauvillier, who rose to the occasion and never took his foot off the gas.
His fun helped the Isles go deeper than they had in 27 years. That was a victory on its own.
But overall, it was Beauvillier himself and the team who were the bigger winners of it all.