Nathan Beaulieu: Montreal Canadiens' 2011 NHL Draft Review

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Nathan Beaulieu: Montreal Canadiens' 2011 NHL Draft Review
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
Canadiens first round pick Nathan Beaulieu of the Saint John Seadogs flanked by Canadiens head of amateur scouting Trevor Timmins and team Owner/President Geoff Molson.

The Montreal Canadiens held the 17th overall pick in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft.

Pierre Gauthier had announced before the draft that he would not pick based on organizational need, but instead choose the best talent, which makes sense when drafting mid-late first round, where by then many teams have already gone off the board as Winnipeg did when picking Mark Scheifele (say that name 10 times fast).

Lets take a look at the Habs' first-round pick. 

 

1st Round, 17th Overall: D Nathan Beaulieu, Saint John Seadogs (QMJHL)

65 GP 12 G 33 A 45 P 52 PIM

The Strathroy, Ontario native was still available when the Canadiens were on the clock at No. 17, and he was a no-brainer pick.

Beaulieu has great skating ability and doesn't get lost transitioning from offense to defense, which will bode well for him in Montreal's counter-attack, puck-moving system.

He's also got a big frame at 6'2" on which he needs to add some muscle as he only weighs 174 pounds, but that will come with time. Beaulieu uses his big frame effectively, getting involved in the physical play but sometimes taking himself out of position for the big hit—a problem the Canadiens rectified with PK Subban.

Speaking of Subban, Beaulieu has drawn comparisons to the Habs' young stud as they have similar styles of play and off-ice personalities.

Beaulieu has good strength, which he uses well to push opponents off the puck or stick them into the boards. He will also drop the gloves if need be.

In regards to the Subban comparisons, Beaulieu is neither as flashy nor as risky, but just as offensive-minded and better defensively out of junior. 

 

Biggest Assets:

He has quick breakout ability, with quick first passes, and is also more than willing to start the rush himself.

He plays a well-rounded game, with offensive ability, defensive poise, and a physical edge. 

 

Biggest Concerns:

He takes himself out of position for the big hit and takes a long time to release his slap shot, as his back-swing is too long. (PK Subban had both these problems at the beginning of the year, and they were quickly rectified by the Canadiens coaching staff.) 

 

Review:

Beaulieu is a great pick for the Habs—he will fit perfectly into Montreal's puck-moving style and will have time to improve without being rushed, with the Canadiens having a steady defence corps.

A great, well-rounded pick with tons of offensive upside. Many who have seen Beaulieu play over the last few years think he will be NHL ready after one year in the AHL.

A top 10 pick that fell into the Canadiens' lap. Top four potential. 

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