Nathan Beaulieu has always been one of the brightest prospects the Montreal Canadiens have on their blueline. He took a backseat for most of the season to veterans Douglas Murray and Francis Bouillon but was shown a bunch of confidence in the post-season.
STATS: 17 Games | 0 G-2 A = 2 P | 8 PIM | +6 | 46.3% Corsi | 1.0 Point Shares
PLAYOFFS: 7 games | 0 G-2 A = 2 P | 2 PIM | +3 | 50.4% Corsi
STORY: The book on Nathan Beaulieu had always been great player, crappy attitude and there are rumblings that is what kept him fron the NHL. However, when you’re being sent down to Hamilton for the Olympic break and someone else gets recalled when it ended, you can imagine it would be frustrating.
It really seemed like Michel Therrien wanted to get both Beaulieu and Jarred Tinordi some NHL time and that was the major reason for the switch. However, with Douglas Murray struggling and a choice looming to replace him in the series against the Boston Bruins, Therrien chose Beaulieu.
The move paid off right away. Beaulieu made a beautiful pass to Max Pacioretty which sprung him on a partial breakaway that he put home. The Canadiens ended up winning the game and it was evident what Beaulieu brought to the team. He was also used when the team needed a goal when it was down in the third period.
Sure, there were times where Therrien shied away from using Beaulieu when they had the lead, but the confidence shown on him when the team had a power play or needed a goal should be a nice boost to him. He has the potential to be a key top-four puck mover on the back end which would be nice as that is currently where the Canadiens are a little thin.
Like most young players who got the call this year, it’s hard to get a real judge on Beaulieu. He was sheltered in the playoffs, but didn’t make many significant mistakes considering he went several months without playing an NHL game. This was a developmental year for Beaulieu but he made a nice step by playing his first NHL playoff games.
FUTURE: Beaulieu has a year remaining on his entry-level contract before becoming a restricted free-agent. With the team announcing they will not bring back Douglas Murray, you can imagine there will be a spot on the team for either Beaulieu or Tinordi but not both. It will be up to them to decide who takes the spot. Beaulieu is also a perfect replacement for Andrei Markov down the line whether if he signs elsewhere or when he retires.
2014-2015: 925,000 [bonus eligible]
2015-2016: Restricted Free-Agent