'The timing is perfect': Trade to Canucks a fresh start for Beauvillier
Joining a new team amid a tidal wave of change doesn't intimidate newly minted Vancouver Canucks forward Anthony Beauvillier.
The Canucks capped a whirlwind month with a mammoth trade Monday, dealing captain Bo Horvat to the New York Islanders for Beauvillier, prospect Aatu Raty and a protected first-round pick in this summer's NHL entry draft.
The move came eight days after Vancouver fired head coach Bruce Boudreau and replaced him with Rick Tocchet.
New personnel — both on the ice and behind the bench — represent a fresh opportunity, Beauvillier said.
"Honestly, I think the timing is perfect," he told reporters on a video call Tuesday. "Having the chance to start from scratch with everyone, it’s exciting.”
Beauvillier, a 25-year-old left-winger from Sorel-Tracy, Que., could use a fresh start.
Selected 28th overall by the Islanders in the 2015 NHL entry draft, the five-foot-11, 180-pound forward has spent his entire career with the Islanders, amassing 209 points (102 goals, 107 assists) over 457 regular-season games.
He has struggled offensively this season, though, with nine goals and 11 assists across 49 appearances.
"I feel like I had some good years to start and it’s kind of slowed down in the last few seasons," Beauvillier said of his NHL career. "I feel like my numbers, they don’t really speak for the way I’ve been playing this year. I’ve had a lot of opportunities and just haven’t really found the back of the net."
Beauvillier is a player Canucks general manager Patrik Allvin has been watching since his time in the Pittsburgh Penguins' front office.
"(He’s) been playing pretty consistently for the New York Islanders over the last few years," Allvin said. "I like the details he plays with, his tenacity, his puck handling. I think he will fit in well here in our top-six group, the left side."
Leaving New York comes with "mixed emotions," Beauvillier said.
But childhood friend and Islanders teammate Matt Barzal, who hails from the Vancouver suburb of Coquitlam, B.C., has tried to make the transition a little easier.
"Him texting me that I could probably take his old bedroom in Vancouver is pretty funny," Beauvillier said. "But it’s been a hell of a ride with him and he’s going to stay one of my best friends forever."
Raty, a 20-year-old rookie centre, caught wind of the trade while relaxing at a spa during his first trip into New York City on Monday.
"I actually did not have my phone on me so I had so many texts and calls that I missed," he said. "Luckily, my girlfriend checked her phone — she was in the spa, too — and she had some texts about ‘What are you going to do in Vancouver?'
"I was definitely shocked. But after that, really excited for the future."
The six-foot-two, 190-pound forward from Oulunsalo, Finland, has two goals in 12 games this season — including one against the Canucks on Jan. 3.
Raty's a player Vancouver's scouting staff really liked in 2021, the year the Islanders took him in the second round (52nd overall) of the NHL entry draft, Allvin said.
"He was a highly rated player. Struggled a little bit in the end of his draft year, I think that’s why he slid out of the first round," the GM said.
"But he had such a strong draft-year-plus-one year back in (the Finish Elite League), having a point per game, I believe, in the top league there. And then came back and played really strongly at the world juniors."
Instead of jumping into the NHL club's lineup, Raty will start with the Abbotsford Canucks in the American Hockey League, Allvin added.
The young forward said he's looking forward to playing with other Canucks prospects currently stationed in the minors, including Vasily Podkolzin, Nils Hoglander and Danil Klimovich.
"Definitely really good talented players down there," he said. "I’m really excited."
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 31, 2023.
Gemma Karstens-Smith, The Canadian Press