The Montreal Canadiens and Buffalo Sabres have broken the ice on trades Saturday ahead of the 3:00 P.M. EST trade freeze. The Canadiens have sent defender Nathan Beaulieu to the Buffalo Sabres in exchange for their third-round draft selection in 2017 which will come at pick 68, the Canadiens announced Saturday. This deal was the first official deal of the day but was far from the first transaction that the Canadiens made this week.
The Canadiens acquire BUF's 3rd-round pick (68) in 2017 , in return for N. Beaulieu.
— Canadiens Montréal (@CanadiensMTL) June 17, 2017
The Canadiens made a huge wave Thursday when the sent blue chip defensive prospect Mikhail Sergachev to the Tampa Bay Lightning in exchange for forward Jonathan Drouin. The deal was the second blockbuster deal that the Canadiens have made in as many years with the first one sending P.K. Subban to the Nashville Predators in exchange for Shea Weber. Next on the docket was the re-signing of prospect Charles Hudon to a two-year, one-way contract. Now, the Canadiens are sending a former first-round draft pick to a division rival for a third-round pick – a significant drop off from where they original selected Beaulieu at 17th overall in 2011.
Beaulieu Didn’t Pan Out
Though he’s still just 24 years old, it’s clear that Beaulieu hasn’t panned out the way the Canadiens would have hoped. Playing in 225 career games, the 6-foot-2, 205-pound blueliner has scored seven goals and 60 points and has failed to turn heads the way the Canadiens would have hoped when selecting him so early in 2011. While Beaulieu is still a legitimate NHL defender, his value has significantly dropped off since being drafted as made evident by the low return that the Canadiens got for him ahead of the trade freeze and the upcoming NHL Expansion Draft.
Due to the Expansion Draft, however, the Canadiens were also likely looking to simply recoup an asset rather than losing Beaulieu for nothing. It’s still an interesting move for the Canadiens, however, who already appear to be in the market to acquire a defender. Losing one defender for a draft pick doesn’t necessarily make sense in that context, but again, the Expansion Draft is causing many teams around the league to consider moves that might not have been made otherwise.
Sabres Getting Value From the CanadiensTop Story
While Beaulieu may have never lived up to his first-round billing as a member of the Canadiens, the Sabres get a 24-year-old defender in the prime of his career for minimal cost while trying to rebuild their franchise from the ground up. Beaulieu may not be as flashy as some of the other names being floated around as potential trade targets, but the Sabres and new general manager Jason Botterill found value in Beaulieu. The Sabres now have Rasmus Ristolainen, Zach Bogosian, Jake McCabe, Josh Gorges and Justin Falk under contract with Beaulieu, Cody Franson, Taylor Fedun, Austin Brady, Dmitry Kulikov and Mat Bodie all looking for new deals as restricted and unrestricted free agents. The Sabres are definitely going to protect Ristolainen which will likely leave them with the decision to leave one of Bogosian, McCabe, Gorges, Falk and Beaulieu unprotected.