24-Year-Old Defenseman – Buffalo Sabres
Nathan Beaulieu Contract Information:
Re-signed with the Sabres on a two-year, $4.8 million contract in July of 2017.
Beaulieu notched a primary assist in Sunday's 3-1 road win over the Ducks.
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Nathan Beaulieu: Past News Updates ( ▲ View most recent update )
RotoWire's Preseason Outlooks
Beaulieu experienced incremental improvement last season, playing the same number of games as the year before while upping his point total by 10 -- although that still resulted in a total of only two goals and 17 assists. Still, as he enters his age-23 season, Beaulieu is in good position to continue improving; he was an accomplished scorer from the blue line in juniors and the AHL, and seems to be grasping the NHL game better and better as he goes along. With the Habs looking to reduce Andrei Markov's workload, Beaulieu could be headed for big minutes and should reward fantasy owners with late-draft value.
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.