Anthony Beauvillier (photo by Paul Krotz)
The Shawinigan Cataractes center is short on stature but large on heart, which went a long in way in explaining why he earned the captain's 'C' for Team Cherry at the CHL Top Prospects Game.
In past years, the captains for the CHL Top Prospects Game have been two of the highest-ranked players for that year's NHL draft - Aaron Ekblad and Sam Reinhart, for example.
And while Connor McDavid will wear the 'C' for Team Orr, his opponent on Team Cherry is a bit more under-the-radar.
Anthony Beauvillier won't be vying for first overall this summer, but as a tenacious player known for his leadership, he's not a bad choice at all.
"He definitely leads by example," said Dan Marr, head of the NHL's Central Scouting Bureau. "There's an infectious attitude in the way he plays. He's similar to Robby Fabbri last year where he's really relentless on the puck, relentless on the play. He doesn't quit."
That's been bad news for the other teams in the Quebec League lately. Beauvillier is now tied for third in league scoring with 31 goals and 66 points in 45 games. January has been especially bountiful for the pivot, as Beauvillier has 16 points in seven games since the calendar closed on 2014. If there's one drawback, it's the same that dogged Fabbri's draft status last season: size.
"If this kid is six-foot, he's a first-rounder," said one NHL scout. "So much drive, plays with such high pace and he has a really good skill set. If someone is going to draft a 5-foot-10 kid early, he's the guy."
Beauvillier has been a high draft pick before, going second overall in the QMJHL draft in 2013. The Cataractes were in rebuild mode after a 2012 Memorial Cup victory, so the glory days were far gone by the time Beauvillier hit town, but losing provided its own lessons.
"Last year was a tough year for all the team," he said. "We built off that and this year we came in with confidence. We're more mature and that's why we're doing well right now."
Like a growing number of prospects, Beauvillier has hockey bloodlines. His older brother, Francis Beauvillier, was selected in the sixth round by the Florida Panthers back in 2012. Francis played eight games in the American League after his junior career in the 'Q' before heading to the University of New Brunswick.
"I always wanted to follow in his footsteps," Anthony said. "He worked so hard, so it was easy for me to work hard. It's because of my brother that I play hockey so I owe everything to him."
And while there will be a landslide of attention paid to McDavid when the puck drops at the Meridian Centre in St. Catharines, Ont., Thursday night, you can bet scouts will be watching Beauvillier as well. The St. Louis Blues already look like they have a steal in the similarly gifted Fabbri and Beauvillier isn't taking his captaincy honor for granted.
"I'm very excited to be captain of this team," he said. "Team Cherry's not a bad team, you know? I wasn't expecting it, but I'm very happy."
If he continues to put up points and play with such vigor, Beauvillier is going to make an NHL team very happy in the near future, as well.