Monday, June 19, 2017

Sabres jump on expansion draft casualty--3rd for MTL's Beaulieu

Published by, 6-17-2017

The Buffalo Sabres need to bolster their blueline and there was a possibility that the Montreal Canadiens were going to lose d-man Nathan Beaulieu to the Las Vegas Golden Knights. Now they'll get something in return. According to the Habs, the Sabres have traded the 68th pick in the NHL Draft to the Canadiens for Beaulieu.

The 6'2" 205 lb Strathroy, Ontario native was selected by Montreal with the 17th overall pick in the 2011 draft. After finishing his final season with the St. John's Sea Dogs, Beaulieu split time between Montreal and their AHL affiliate, the Hamilton Bulldogs. In 225 games for the Canadiens over the last five seasons Beaulieu totaled 60 points (7+53) and had a plus-19 rating with only one season on the negative side.

Beaulieu was projected as a mobile, puck-moving defenseman with size, offense and the ability to qb the powerplay. Opportunity knocked for him last season but according to a June 13 article by Joey Allen of Pro Hockey Talk, "Expectations were high for Canadiens defenseman Nathan Beaulieu going into last season, but things definitely didn’t work out as planned. He opened the regular season on Montreal’s top pairing with Shea Weber. But after just a handful of games, Michel Therrien decided he had seen enough."

New coach Claude Julien didn't have a lot of faith in him either as Beaulieu was a healthy scratch for Game-6 of the Habs/NY Rangers series. Montreal lost that game 3-1 at Madison Square Gardens and lost the series 4-2.

In dropping down the depth chart the expansion draft demanded the Canadiens make a choice--leave him unprotected with the possibility that the Knights might take him or trade him. Allen would conclude that "Even though the 2011 first rounder’s stock is at an all-time low, you’d have to think that Vegas would pounce on him if he’s left unprotected by the Canadiens.

"Over the last three seasons, there have been moments when Beaulieu has looked terrific on the ice, but like most young defensemen, consistency has been a problem."

The 24 yr. old Beaulieu joins 22 yr. old Rasmus Ristolainen and 23 yr. old Jake McCabe in young but inconsistent category for the Buffalo Sabres, but new head coach Phil Housley looks to have some mobility with which to revamp his defense-corps.

In trading for Beaulieu to likely join Ristolainen and McCabe, it looks as if the Sabres will be leaving two veteran players unprotected in the expansion draft--Zach Bogosian and Josh Gorges. Bogosian has three years left on his contract with a $5.14 million cap-hit while Gorges has one year at $3.9 million.

Will Las Vegas GM George McPhee be interested in either of those two and/or will there be enticements for him to select either of them or the high-dollar contracts of Tyler Ennis or Matt Moulson?

We won't know until next week, but the Sabres did themselves some good by landing a d-man like Beaulieu.

Buffalo's draft picks as of now are:

#54 (from Minnesota)
#89 (from Washington)

Defense -- shoots L
Born Dec 5 1992 -- Strathroy, ONT
[24 yrs. ago]
Height 6.02 -- Weight 205

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