Left wing Anthony Beauvillier wasn’t about to start dissecting whether Josh Bailey or Jordan Eberle is a better fit for his Islanders top line with Calder Trophy winner Mathew Barzal.
“They’re different players but both really smart on the ice,” Beauvillier said. “There are differences, but they’re two really good players, so I’m not going to compare them.”
That’s for Barry Trotz to evaluate.
The coach has flipped the right wings, moving Eberle to Brock Nelson’s line with Anders Lee after he teamed with Beauvillier and Barzal for most of his first season with the Islanders.
Bailey had a goal and two assists in Saturday night’s 5-2 win over the Rangers at Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport, Connecticut.
Those were Bailey’s first points of the preseason as he played his second straight game on Barzal’s line with Beauvillier after playing with Nelson and Lee in the first game. Beauvillier had two goals and Barzal had two assists on Saturday.
The Islanders, who concluded a stretch of six games in seven days Saturday, were off Sunday and next face the Rangers on Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden. The season opener is Oct. 4 at Carolina.
Eberle, who had an assist Saturday, played his first two preseason games on Barzal’s right wing with Beauvillier and now has played two games on Nelson’s line.
“I’m just trying to find who works well with each other,” Trotz said. “Beau is a very intelligent player who plays a north-south game. Bails is a veteran guy, he can read off Barzy. One of the things you find with a tremendous talent like Barzy, they don’t always play a standard structure because he’s so creative. I think Beau has that ability to work with Mathew and I think Bails has the hockey IQ, he can read off of them and just balance the line out.”
Trotz also said Eberle can give a “little bit of flash and dash” to Nelson’s line.
Eberle, who is entering the final season of a six-year, $36-million deal, had 25 goals and 34 assists last season after being acquired from the Oilers. Bailey, starting a six-year, $30-million extension, had 18 goals and 53 assists last season as John Tavares’ linemate.
“It’s going to take a bit of time,” Bailey said. “It’s still feeling each other out a little bit but baby steps. That’s what camp is for.”
Notes & quotes: Defenseman Kyle Burroughs cleared waivers and was assigned to Bridgeport (AHL), leaving 42 players in the Islanders’ camp.