24-Year-Old Defenseman – Buffalo Sabres
Nathan Beaulieu Contract Information:
Beaulieu signed a two-year, $2 million contract extension with the Canadiens in June of 2015.
Beaulieu, who was recently acquired from Montreal, was one of three defensemen protected by the Sabres.
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Nathan Beaulieu: Past News Updates ( ▲ View most recent update )
RotoWire's Preseason Outlooks
The shakeup on the Montreal blue line suggests an enhanced role for Beaulieu in 2014-15. They Habs have traded Josh Gorges while letting Francis Bouillon and Douglas Murray walk, clearing at least two spots for some of the organization's younger defenseman. Beaulieu held his own in 24 games at the NHL level, including seven during the playoff run, finishing with a plus-9 and four assists. While playing with AHL Hamilton, he had 27 points and five power-play goals, but was a team-worst minus-19 on a bad Bulldogs team. He has offensive skills and more importantly size. Look for Beaulieu or Jarred Tinordi to grab one of the six spots on defense.
Beaulieu, a first-round draft pick in 2011, had his first taste of the professional leagues in 2013, opening the season with the AHL Hamilton Bulldogs and getting a brief call up to Montreal. He had 31 points (7 goals, 24 assists) and was a minus-8 for the Bulldogs. Beaulieu's made strides defensively, but his improvement doesn't jump out at you as the Bulldogs were the worst team in the AHL. He's behind Jarrod Tinordi in the pipeline, but will be part of the Canadiens' future. He possesses smart offensive skills that make him a replacement for Andrei Markov as the quarterback on the power play.
Bealieu, 18, repeated his 45-point performance from 2009-10 for the Saint John Sea Dogs of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League in 2010-11. The smooth-skating defenseman excels in transition, creates passing lanes and is a smart distributor. The big questions are his ability on the defensive end. Things like skating backward and pivoting while in retreat. He could also stand to add some heft in the coming years. He'll return to Saint John this season.