Montreal Canadiens Select Nathan Beaulieu – 2011 NHL Entry Draft

Nathan Beaulieu

I’m sure with the announcement, that a player with the last name of Beaulieu was the first round pick for the Montreal Canadiens in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, Quebecers smiled in celebration. A native son was coming home to play for their beloved Habs. All this on St-Jean-Baptiste Day! It would have been hard to write that as a script, never mind seeing it actually come to fruition. Let the celebrations begin!

So what does this pick do for the future of the Montreal Canadiens?

As expected, as soon as the announcement was made – fans all over the province, the country, and North America (especially right here in Montreal) began the debate. Many wanted Gauthier to go after a large forward. After all, by the time the Canadiens took to the podium for the 17th overall pick, there were still many forwards available.

Some expected the front office to announce the likes of Biggs, Phillips, or Saad. Instead, Gauthier stuck to the game plan that he spoke of just prior to the draft: “Solving the defensive puzzle” of his team.

So who is this young defenseman from the QMJHL’s Memorial Cup winning Sea Dogs?

Nathan Beaulieu (despite what his last name may insinuate) is a native of Strathroy, Ontario. He’s a big body, standing 6’2″ – weighing in at 174 pounds. In 65 games played in Saint John this past season, he scored 12 goals with 33 assists. He also set a Sea Dogs single season record for a blue liner with a +44 (+/-) rating. Surpassing his own record of +43 from the previous year. Also on his CV, was an invitation to be part of the Memorial Cup All-Star team.

But what are his game strengths, and what does he bring to the Montreal Canadiens franchise for the future?Those points are best seen through quotes from both his Saint John head coach, and the Central Scouting of the NHL:

“He’s gotten better, bigger and stronger, he’s playing a lot better defensively but he’s pressing for his points. He’s a guy who gets a lot of opportunities because he jumps into the rush very well.” ~ Saint John Sea Dogs coach Gerard Gallant

“He’ll be an offensive-defenseman … he’s a good skater, good puck-mover. He has a good shot and is very poised with the puck. He’s a veteran who has a lot of responsibilities for Saint John.” ~ NHL Central Scouting’s Chris Bordeleau

So how does this bode for the future of the Canadiens moving forward? Quite simply put – it bodes well.

Although many will feel that there is no immediate need to bolster the defensive unit, and that there was a greater need for a big forward, Guathier has once again shown great vision for the future.

The Canadiens will be looking to fill some pretty big skates in the next couple of years. With the defensive unit in the big club getting older, there is a great need for a youthful infusion. The likes of Hal Gill, Jaroslav Spacek, and Roman Hamrlik (if signed) will all be on the way out, leaving recently signed veteran Andrei Markov to groom superstar PK Subban, and work closely in the development of Josh Gorges (if signed). There is the imminent departures of Brent Sopel, Paul Mara, and James Wisniewski on the horizon, and no one should be surprised if Yannick Weber sees himself in another uniform in the very near future as well.

Even if Weber stays, as he’s proven himself to be a quick skating D-man, I don’t foresee Alexandre Picard as being a long term contract for the Habs either. So the acquisition of a large, strong, offensive defenseman is nothing but positive for the club.

Here’s a compilation of some of his work:

There is still many a player available in the second portion of the 2011 Entry Draft, and there’s a good opportunity that Gauthier will secure a decent forward for the future of La Flanelle.

But despite all the griping – of which I admit, I was not overly thrilled for the first 5 minutes after the announcement was made – Beaulieu is a great steal, and will do nothing but good for the future of the Canadiens.

Welcome aboard Nathan – Bienvenue au Montreal!

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About Iain Carnegie (@emann_222 on Twitter)

I have followed the Montreal Canadiens for over twenty years, even while living in the heart of Toronto. I spent 5 years in the mecca of hockey, moving to the Plateau region of Montreal in the summer of 2009, I've been writing extensively on the Habs franchise at Bleed Blue Blanc Rouge BBBR has now moved to it's new home here at WordPress, , where content continues to matter.
This entry was posted in 2011 - 2012 NHL Season, 2011 NHL Entry Draft, Eastern Conference, Montreal Canadiens, NHL Events, Northeastern Division and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Montreal Canadiens Select Nathan Beaulieu – 2011 NHL Entry Draft

  1. JHabs says:

    Excellent Post my friend.

    quite simply put as you did sir, Beaulieu is the steal of the 2011 NHL Draft, unless a Pavel Datsyuk emerges from the 5th-6th round.

    Beaulieu from talking to other people, and two scouts, is a Beast of a Player waiting to happen, with already a boat load of skill, tools, poise and leadership, he is only scratching the surface of his potential. In many mock drafts Beaulieu was going between 6-13 and how he fell to Montreal is a mystery. I’m dubbing this a NHL Draft Phenomenon, as the Habs and even myself were totally not expecting Beaulieu to be anywhere near the Habs pick.

    Throughout Twitter, and some Forums, people are tossing comparisons around, but one scout I spoke to said don’t be surprised if you hear the comparison Doughty pop out a few times, because he can get up to that potential, take it for what its worth, to me I just want him to be the player hes meant to be.

    He certainly is a potential Top pairing D, and with Him and Subban on the back end the future is looking great for Montreal.

    • So true Jay, and by the way – it’s great to have you back reading at BBBR – as well as leaving your insightful comments.

      I’m sure that Beaulieu is the last name that many fans expected to hear tonight, but he is a steal, and I like your Draft Phenomenon statement. As for a scout saying that there is possible comparison to the likes of Doughty … well what can I say to that? Exceptional!

      I am of the belief that Gauthier and the front office are really putting together a team that is going to make Montreal true Cup contenders over the next few years. I haven’t felt this positive in a long time. Tonight’s draft acquisition secured those thoughts for me.

  2. Shawn says:

    I must say i am very happy with this pick by the habs, he was the best player available and I’m glad Pierre took him, in the future we will need d men and he is a great start to the development

  3. DocsD says:

    In 3-4 years they should have:
    Subban – Yemelin
    Beaulieu – Tinordi

    Thats sweet.

  4. showey47 says:

    Hockey data base has him listed at 6’3″ 191.

  5. 1229Hawk says:

    To be honest, I was hoping Beaulieu would be available at 17, ever since I read in the blogs a couple of weeks ago that Montreal management had brought him into town for a personal meeting and evaluation. I had been reading and analyzing draft-eligible players leading up to the draft, and I liked what I had read about Beaulieu. The kid is a great skater, and had a growth spurt this year to where the Hockey News now lists him at 6’2″, 185 lbs. Central Scouting wrote that he is starting to play with an edge this year, and that the kid has a bit of a mean streak in him. And if there’s one thing the Habs need, it’s NASTY on the back end. He grew up in a hockey family, and he comes from a winning tradition at St. John. At 18, he has already won a championship, and was named to the Memorial Cup all-star team.

    In the audio Beaulieu said he is going to do his best to make the Habs at training camp this year. That’s the kind of attitude Subban had his first year at camp. Beulieu trains in the Summer with several NHL players including Drew Doughty, and said that he trys to pattern his game after Doughty. Not a bad player to try to emulate.

    Ever since we let McDonagh go, the Habs were short of prospects on defence. We started the ball rolling last year with Tinordi, and completed the rebuild this year by drafting Beaulieu. In short, I am VERY impressed with this young man’s potential. I think it was a shrewd draft pick by the Habs brass, and I am really looking forward to seeing Beaulieu in a Montreal uniform one day in the not too distant future.

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