Picking seventeenth in the first round of the NHL’s Entry draft the Montreal Canadiens took Nathan Beaulieu from the Memorial Cup champion Saint John Sea Dogs of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.
Beaulieu’s hometown is Strathroy, Ontario. His father, Jacques, was once an assistant coach with the London Knights of the OHL. He came to Saint John when his father, became the Saint John head coach in 2006. Although his heritage is Franco-Ontarian, Beaulieu admitted at the draft that he is going to have to work on his French before coming to Montreal.
He is 6’3” 191 lbs. He is considered one of, if not, the best skater in the draft. NHL Central Scouting had Beaulieu listed at number-five among North American skaters.
In each of his last two years he put up identical numbers – 12 goals and 33 assists. Two years ago, he was plus-43, this year plus-44. Some have compared his skill set to that of the Washington Capitals Mike Green.
Canadiens general manager Pierre Gauthier told TSN that he resisted offers from teams trying to trade up to his draft position as long as Beaulieu was still available. The Canadiens showed early interest in Beaulieu, bringing him to Montreal for an extensive interview.
The final six rounds of the draft will take place tomorrow. The Canadiens will make six more selections, but they have no second round choice. Their draft positions will be 78th (third round), 113, 138, 168 and 198.
The Canadiens have not been shy about trading draft picks over the last two years giving up draft positions to Florida, the Islanders and Atlanta. On February 10th 2010 they traded away their second round choice (47th overall) to Florida for Dominic Moore. A compensatory pick awarded the Canadiens after they declined to sign former first round pick David Fischer (50th) went to the Islanders December 31st for James Wisniewski. 106th overall was traded to Atlanta as part of the February 26th Brent Sopel/Nigel Dawes deal. The Canadiens did acquire Anaheim’s fourth round pick when they sent Kyle Chipchura to the Ducks in December 2009.