Monday, May 7, 2018

Impressions of, and questions concerning--D, Nathan Beaulieu

Published by, 5-6-2018

Defenseman--Nathan Beaulieu
DOB:  December 5, 1992 (Age, 25)
Draft:  2011, 17th-overall, MTL
How acquired:  Trade with Montreal, June 17, 2017
Last contract signed:  July 31, 2017, 2yrs./$4.8 million
Final year of contract:  2018-19

2017-18 Stats:  59 games played | 1 goal | 8 assists | 9 points | -19 | 15:57 ATOI

Buffalo Career Stats:  59 games | 1 goal | 8 assists | 9 points | -19 | 15:57 ATOI

What we wrote preseason:  [Beaulieu] was drafted as an "offensive-defenseman," according to Chris Bordeleau of, a d-man who's "a good skater, good puck-mover...has a good shot and is very poised with the puck."

[In 2016-17] Beaulieu, who had started out the season with appearances on the top-pairing with [Shea] Weber slowly fell down the depth chart. He went to the third pairing and then was a healthy scratch late in the season and for the final game of their first round playoff loss to the NY Rangers. Ironically, last season was his best pro season (4 goals, 24 assists, +8) despite falling down the depth chart and ending up in [coach Claude] Julien's dog house.

Beaulieu signed a two-year contract with the Sabres this summer and although it's not a "prove-it" type deal in a "show me" type season for him, the onus is on him to do the work and focus his energies on his new team. There's a lot to learn and he'll be expected to play a solid role for the team somewhere in the bottom-four. I'm not sure if the "party-boy" label is true, but if he wants to reach his potential, it starts anew with an opportunity in Buffalo.

Should he work out, it will have benefitted the Sabres nicely.

What we wrote mid-season:  Botterill sent a third-round pick to the Montreal Canadiens for Beaulieu with the thought was that he acquired a d-man with top-four upside. With Bogosian out, Beaulieu saw a lot of time there and it really didn't go all that well. From his torso on down, the left-handed shot from Strathroy, Ontario looks great as he's mobile and can get to a puck in earnest. But somewhere along the line there's a disconnect between what his head wants him to do and what his hands end up doing as he cannot keep the puck on his stick. Should that synapsis ever fully engage, the Sabres have themselves a nice find, but right now he looks like a mobile, bottom-pairing d-man.

Impressions on his play this year:  In addition to the ever present "disconnect" between head and hands, Beaulieu had brain cramps on almost a nightly basis where an egregious turnover either lead to a golden opportunity or a goal against. It was almost comical at times until you facepalmed so often that the lines in your hands began to wear down. That said, I like Beaulieu. I like his skating, I like his skill-level and I like the sandpaper he plays with. But those turnovers? If he can keep it relatively clean next season, he might earn another contract with Buffalo in a bottom-pair/reserve role. However, a $2.4 million price tag would be too steep for that.

Questions moving forward:  Can he rid himself of those brain cramps? Will more protected minutes help? Is there room for him in the top-six with the addition of Rasmus Dahlin and the probable promotion of Brendan Guhle at some point? With that in mind, would he be trade bait at the 2019 NHL trade deadline?

Contract info via CapFriendly, stats via and hockey

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