The Montreal Canadiens have traded defenceman Nathan Beaulieu to the Buffalo Sabres in exchange for the Sabres third round pick in the 2017 NHL Draft, 68th overall. The 24-year-old defenceman just wrapped up his fifth season with the Habs, but will now be entering his sixth in a Sabres sweater.
The Canadiens acquire BUF's 3rd-round pick (68) in 2017 , in return for N. Beaulieu.
— Canadiens Montréal (@CanadiensMTL) June 17, 2017
Nathan Beaulieu Traded to the Buffalo Sabres
Beaulieu was drafted 17th overall by the Canadiens in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. He made his NHL debut in 2012-13, skating in six games with two assists. The next season he saw slightly more ice time, playing 17 games. Once again he tallied two assists before returning to the AHL.
In 2014-15 however, Beaulieu finally found himself in a top-six role. He played 64 games and scored his first career NHL goal, also adding eight helpers. The following season, he played in 64 games yet again, scoring twice and adding 17 assists for 19 points.
This past year with Montreal was his best to date. He played in a career-high 74 games, scoring a career-high four goals and 28 points in a more advanced role in the Canadiens’ lineup.
At the conclusion of this past season changes needed to be made after a disappointing postseason. Beaulieu’s name was in the mix, and it seems that those rumours were right. Even if the Habs wanted to keep Beaulieu long term, their hands were forced due to the upcoming Expansion Draft. The Habs only had one spot open after protecting Jeff Petry (NMC) and Shea Weber. With Jordie Benn, Brandon Davidson, Alexei Emelin and Beaulieu all potential options to be protected, moving a defenceman to recoup assets was a must for general manager Marc Bergevin
Over the past few seasons, Beaulieu has had some bright moments, playing a physical game. He can get in the way of an opposing player and force a break in the oncoming play. However, he struggles with consistency, as do most young players. He began the 2016-17 season on the top pairing with Shea Weber but fell to the bottom pairing and was even a healthy scratch at times. With Buffalo, Beaulieu can fill a bottom defensive pairing role. He can still play a great game, and just needs the time to mature.