Mathew Barzal and Anthony Beauvillier felt that he had left everything they had on the ice during New York Islanders training camp.
The Islanders also felt good about what they saw from the 19-year-olds, naming both of them to the 23-man roster on Tuesday afternoon. For both Barzal and Beauvillier, it's a surreal moment and vindication of a lot of hard work.
"It's a dream come true for us," Beauvillier said on Tuesday. "It's hard to describe. I worked as hard as I could to show the coaches I'm ready. I'm just very happy right now. It's hard to describe, I'm just really, really happy to have made the team for the beginning of the season and who knows what the future holds."
Making the team was the first hurdle for the 2015 first-round picks, now the goal is to stick on the roster. The rookies can play up to nine games with the team before the first year of their entry-level contracts officially kicks in, essentially an extended tryout. It offers the coaches a chance to see how they fare against NHL competition before making a decision on whether or not to send them back to juniors. If they get sent back to Seattle (Barzal's junior club) or Shawinigan (Beauvillier's), they can't come up until the end of the season.
"We have the luxury of having nine games with those guys and if we didn't think they were ready to help us, we would have sent them back to their junior programs," Capuano said. "We still have some time with them, we don't want to rush guys, so we just want to see how things play out."
Beauvillier scored the game-winning goal against the New Jersey Devils on Wednesday, but it was his defensive plays, hockey IQ and versatility that caught the eye of the coaches during camp. Barzal scored a goal and three assists in training camp, showcasing his dynamic offensive talent.
Beauvillier practiced on a line with Brock Nelson and Josh Bailey on Tuesday, while Barzal skated as an extra forward.
"It's probably the coolest thing in my life," Barzal said. "It's just a real cool time, but I'm not trying to get too excited. I'll have fun with it for a couple hours here and be excited, but come tomorrow, I'm still on a tryout, so I'm coming in and just trying to be the hardest worker every day."
It's still a milestone moment for both prospects, who both earned their way onto the roster. The texts and calls are already pouring in for Beauvillier, who shared a moment with his parents over the phone after hearing the news.
"They're really happy for me," Beauvillier said. "They've made so many sacrifices too for me to be here, so it's a dream come true for them also."
PRACTICE NOTES/ROSTER MOVES
Defensemen Adam Pelech and Ryan Pulock were both assigned to Bridgeport on Tuesday, while Eric Boulton was placed on injured reserve with a lower-body injury, retroactive to Oct. 4, to get the Islanders under the league's roster threshold.
"Decisions need to be made to get down to 23," head coach Jack Capuano said. "There are always tough decisions, but guys this whole camp have been quality people, quality individuals that worked extremely hard."
With PA Parenteau being waived on Monday - and claimed by the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday - Jason Chimera assumed top line duties in practice on Tuesday. Chimera skated on the right wing with John Tavares and Andrew Ladd, and while Capuano didn't commit to that as his top line on opening night, he said Chimera's speed could add a nice dynamic to complement Tavares' playmaking and Ladd's north-south game.
"I liked what I saw today, I liked the speed of that line," Capuano said. "Johnny is obviously one of those guys that thinks the game real well and Andrew goes to the net and Chimera has some speed. So it was worth an opportunity today."
Shane Prince skated with the Islanders for the first time in two weeks, alongside Ryan Strome and Anders Lee. Capuano said Prince looked good in practice, the benefits of letting him come along slowly and not rush his recovery.