We’ve heard the rumours, and this morning Sportsnet’s Eric Engels speculated that Nathan Beaulieu is on the verge of being traded by the Montreal Canadiens.
Have to think there's a very strong chance Nate Beaulieu is traded by Saturday.— Eric Engels (@EricEngels) June 12, 2017
At the same time Beaulieu is also on the TSN Trade Bait board, so there is definitely more than just smoke in the case of the Habs moving on from their 2011 first-round draft pick.
If that is indeed the direction that the Canadiens want to go down, there are several talking points we can speculate on.
- The organization has determined that Beaulieu is no longer part of their long-term plans.
- They plan on protecting one of Alexei Emelin or Jordie Benn over Beaulieu.
- They think that Beaulieu still has some trade value and don’t just want to lose him for nothing to the Vegas Golden Knights during the expansion draft.
It’s difficult to say what sort of return can the Canadiens get for Beaulieu, especially as they will be trading when his value is at its lowest, falling out of favour with head coach Claude Julien and becoming a healthy scratch for Montreal’s elimination game against the New York Rangers. Beaulieu saw a spectacular fall from grace this season, starting off on the first pairing with Shea Weber, and tumbling all the way down the line-up. That being said, he still finished the season with 28 points.
One option is to strengthen the third protected defenceman by packaging Beaulieu with other pieces to upgrade their defensive depth, above Emelin and Benn who should hardly be considered options for third best defencemen on the team. Teams such as Nashville and Anaheim have four strong defencemen and are sure to lose one of them in the expansion draft, so they may consider trading for a Beaulieu rather than risking losing a strong defenceman for nothing.
Another option is to use Beaulieu to move up in the entry draft. The Canadiens are currently picking 25th overall, and although Beaulieu alone probably won’t get the Habs into the top 10 of the draft, it’s possible they have a prospect in mind who they want, and have a draft position in mind to get that prospect.
Trading Beaulieu would mean that the Canadiens would have traded away two puck-moving defencemen in the past two seasons, dumping P.K. Subban in favour of the physically imposing Shea Weber. With these recent playoffs proving that the game is starting to rely on possession more and more, it will be interesting to see what Marc Bergevin will do to start addressing mobility issues with the Canadiens defensive core that can only count Jeff Petry as a possession-based defenceman. It also may be worth noting that the Jakub Jerabek signing possibly eased some of the worry over trading Beaulieu.
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