The Canucks should not be afraid to sell high on Anthony Beauvillier
Photo credit:© Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
6 months ago
The surname “Beauvillier” roughly translates to “beautiful villa,” and that strikes us as mighty appropriate. It’s hard not to feel like Anthony Beauvillier has made a nice home for himself in Vancouver.
As the only piece in the Bo Horvat trade to move directly onto the Canucks’ roster, the pressure was on Beauvillier from the get-go, but no one can complain about how he has responded. With four goals and seven points through his first eight games with Vancouver, Beauvillier is producing like he’s never produced before.
He’s also, notably, outproducing Horvat himself since the two swapped teams.
Not bad for someone who was considered a bit of a throw-in, and perhaps even a light cap dump, when the transaction originally went down.
Playing almost exclusively with Elias Pettersson, Beauvillier’s numbers are undeniably impressive, and the two have some definite chemistry. And it’s not just the raw stats, either. Beauvillier’s analytics, including Corsi and xG, are all miles ahead of his previous bests with the New York Islanders.
Even the eye test supports Beauvillier as someone who is skating well and genuinely contributing to the offence, not just benefitting from Pettersson’s greatness.
So, did the Canucks go out looking for a way to balance salary in a Horvat trade and accidentally wind up with a genuine first line winger?
That’s certainly one way of looking at it.
Another way of looking at it is to assume that, to some degree, Beauvillier is on a hot streak. Say what you will about his numbers in Vancouver thus far, but they’re the result of a small sample size, and putting too much stock into those is always risky business. Even then, there are some indicators already available that suggest Beauvillier will eventually cool off.
For one, Beauvillier’s shooting percentage since joining the Canucks is 20% even. That’s almost double the 11.4% he averaged over seven seasons with the Islanders. Speaking of “almost double,” the same is true of Beauvillier’s point-per-game production in general: 0.46 over seven seasons with the Islanders, 0.88 over eight games with the Canucks.
Hey, it’s entirely possible that Beauvillier is just experiencing a genuine breakout. He’s only 25 years old, he’s just received the proverbial “fresh start/change of scenery,” and he’s obviously loaded with talent. But the statistical odds say that, as more time passes, Beauvillier is likely to regress back toward his career average, at least to some extent.
Maybe the chemistry with Pettersson is a difference-maker here, but then Beauvillier received ample opportunity to skate with great playmakers like John Tavares and Mathew Barzal in New York, and never managed consistent, long-term, top-line production with them.
All we’re really saying here is that the chances of Beauvillier continuing to score at a near-PPG, 40-goal clip for the Vancouver Canucks over the remaining year-and-a-quarter of his $4.15 million AAV contract are slim.
And that’s okay. Really, the Canucks don’t need that from him. They’re not going to be competitive in that same timeframe. Even when it comes to playing with Pettersson, the Canucks already have a couple of linemates locked in with Andrei Kuzmenko and Ilya Mikheyev, to say nothing of Vasily Podkolzin. Right now and for the remainder of his term, Beauvillier is a luxury in Vancouver, but not a necessity. It’s not like finding effective linemates for Pettersson has ever been an issue.
What is a necessity, however, is getting their hands on more picks and prospects. Which is why the Canucks should not buy in to Beauvillier’s current rate of production so much that they’re afraid to “sell high” on him. Selling high on Beauvillier is exactly what they should do, if possible.
We’ve written at length before about the Canucks’ seeming inability to cash in on their tradeable assets when at peak value. It’s long been a frustration for fans and media alike. But with the Horvat deal and the pending departure of Luke Schenn, that does appear to be changing for the better, and Beauvillier could prove the ultimate case in profitable asset management.
Plenty of organizations are looking for additional scoring heading into the 2023 playoffs. There probably isn’t a postseason-bound team out there that wouldn’t like to become faster via the Trade Deadline. The only thing holding back these acquisitions is a league-wide shortage in cap space.
Enter Beauvillier, who is scoring like a first liner in Vancouver but still paid like a low-end second liner. At just $4.15 million against the cap, Beauvillier might make more sense for a team looking for a deadline upgrade than one of the more expensive options on the market. Throw a little retention into the mix, and Beauvillier could kick off a genuine bidding war.
We’ve seen this sort of thing before, especially from the Tampa Bay Lightning with their acquisitions of Barclay Goodrow and Blake Coleman. Any contender trading for Beauvillier now gets him for this playoff run and all of next season, too. If they trade for Beauvillier with retention, they get the same but at an exceptionally cheap rate.
It’s the sort of move that can put a team over the top more than some of the larger, headline-attracting blockbusters. And that’s exactly how the Canucks’ front office should be pitching Beauvillier around the league right now.
Any offers over and above a second round pick should be strongly considered. And we think the Canucks would receive them.
No one is going to get tricked into thinking that Beauvillier has magically morphed into an all-star. But there are teams out there that will look at how much Beauvillier has turned it on for the Canucks, and think to themselves: “Maybe he can do the same for us, at least in short spurts.” And well-timed short spurts are sometimes what win Stanley Cups.
The best thing about attempting to sell high on Beauvillier? If the offers aren’t good enough, the Canucks can simply keep him. Like we said, things are going well for Beauvillier in Vancouver, and he’s not exactly breaking the bank, even without any retention. If come next training camp, he and Mikheyev are duking it out for a spot on Pettersson’s wing, then so be it. Chances are, if Beauvillier isn’t traded, some other winger will be, and the Canucks will definitely have room.
With Beauvillier, the Canucks can afford to wait. If “selling high” means selling now, they should do that. If they think they’ll get better offers at the draft or at the 2024 Trade Deadline, it’s no issue to wait for those dates.
The key takeaway here is that Beauvillier’s excellent run of play to start his Canuck career has given his new team options. The Canucks should do their level-best to ensure their choice is the optimal one, and that’s the option that will yield the greatest return.
Let the Beauvillier bidding begin.
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