Nathan Beaulieu a Likely Trade Bait

Beaulieu

Young defenseman Nathan Beaulieu is full of promise and he has already shown some flashes of greatness, although not quite often enough yet. He is a great skater with some good flair offensively and standing at 6’2”, he does have the physique to play the position.

Picked 17th overall in the first round of the 2011 NHL Draft, Beaulieu is the most logical choice to eventually take over Andrei Markov’s role on the team when the veteran defenseman’s contract expires after the 2016-17 season.

Like a few others this season, the young defenseman made the news for the wrong reasons however, as a video of he and Christian Thomas came out while they were partying at a local club. Ironically soon after, Thomas was traded and the next game, Beaulieu was watching from the pressbox. There is no doubt that the organisation is frowning at such behaviour, particularly when the team is in a prolonged slump. In addition, this wasn’t the first time that Beaulieu found himself in trouble that way as he and his father Jacques plead guilty of assault charges placed against them which stemmed from an altercation at a house party in April 2013.

News and reports that GM Marc Bergevin is actively looking for offensive help up front are plastered all over the internet and in the media and from what we’re hearing and reading, he is looking for a top-6 forward. We know that he wants Jonathan Drouin really badly but as we discussed previously, it is unlikely that Steve Yzerman wants to trade him within the division.

So if Bergevin is looking for a young quality forward who can contribute on the top-6 with the Canadiens, he will have to pay as those guys don’t come cheap. When you look at the team’s depth chart, it is easy to notice that the team’s deepest position is on defense and when you talk quality, Beaulieu is likely the one every other team wants.

Oh it would hurt to lose Beaulieu, no doubt. But when we look at the way Mark Barberio has been playing since being called up, he may have shown the organisation that he is NHL ready and that he could take some of the pressure off Markov and provide some offensive upside on the left side.

Barberio (25) has played nine games so far with the Canadiens, accumulating two points with a differential of minus – 1. During that same nine-game stretch, Beaulieu (23) also has two points and his differential is minus – 4.

So if the Canadiens were to sacrifice Beaulieu to get help up front, the team should be stronger after the trade as long as another roster player isn’t included in the deal. The reason is simple: the step down between Beaulieu and Barberio is a lot lesser than the gain from obtaining a top-6 goals’ scorer who will help not only at even strengths, but on a struggling powerplay.

Brian Wilde revealed earlier that the Canadiens made a serious offer for Jonathan Drouin and as anticipated, it doesn’t look like Steve Yzerman will take the bait. Something tells me that Bergevin will be moving on to his plan “B” and that something should come up prior to Saturday’s game against the Toronto Maple Leafs. I would keep a close eye on Edmonton. Stay tuned.

The Time Has Come for David Desharnais

DDtrade

Those who have been reading me or following me on Twitter for a while know that I have been defending David Desharnais against what I felt were unjustified and overblown reactions from a group of fans. As a matter of fact, I pride myself in playing devil’s advocate, trying to show the other side of the medal, particularly when the masses gather steam by trying to be popular.

You see, for the longest time, I genuinely felt like Desharnais was giving to the team what could be expected out of a guy getting paid 3.5 million dollars per season. The fact that coach Michel Therrien used him in situations that fans didn’t feel were right had absolutely nothing to do with Desharnais, who didn’t deserve the bad press he was getting. The only knock that I had against him was his play in the playoffs, much like Tomas Plekanec for that matter. Oh it wasn’t a lack of effort but with his size, he simply can’t compete when the going gets tough.

Demoted to third line duties to start the season, centering a line with Thomas Fleischmann and Dale Weise, Desharnais had an amazing start to the season, his line being the second most productive, just behind the top line centered by Plekanec.

But how quickly, and mostly how low things have fallen since then! While coach Therrien persists in using him more than he perhaps should, Desharnais’ play has been absolutely brutal for the past couple of months. It’s like he forgot how to play hockey, or what made him successful at every level that he’s played at, including the NHL.

I don’t know if he has any market value but it is my sincere feeling that it’s time to trade him away. The Canadiens are too weak up the middle and that’s something that should be rectified. They need a true number one centre until Alex Galchenyuk is ready to take that on. They also need to commit to Galchenyuk at centre in order for him to continue developing at that position. And last but not least, Lars Eller should be the third line centre on this team.

As we have explored in a previous article, not only do the Canadiens need some scoring punch on the wings, but they must get bigger and tougher to play against at the position of centre and trading Desharnais (and Plekanec as mentioned in the quoted article) would go a long way to do that.

Of course, Desharnais being the only French Canadian in the line-up doesn’t make it easy and that’s why team GM Marc Bergevin is trying hard to get young top prospect Jonathan Drouin from Tampa Bay.