Connect with us

Penguins

Will Penguins Find a Place for Beaulieu? Should They?

Published

on

Pittsburgh Penguins, Penguins trade, NHL trade deadline Nathan Beaulieu

Nathan Beaulieu has never played a game for the Pittsburgh Penguins, but still might be ready to claim a place in franchise history.

Mostly — no, completely — because he’s never pulled on a Penguins sweater for anything except a team photo.

That means Beaulieu is going to be one of the few NHL veterans, if not the only one, to leave the Penguins as a free agent after never skating so much as a shift for them.

The Penguins acquired Beaulieu from Winnipeg for a conditional seventh-round draft choice at the trade deadline not only because of the muscle he might have been able to add to their defense, but because he was on the Long-Term Injured list, and thus didn’t count against the salary-cap ceiling when it was in effect during the regular season.

The conditions for sending that draft pick to the Jets — that the Penguins advance to the 2022 Stanley Cup final and Beaulieu appear in at least 50 percent of the games — were not met, so the Penguins have retained it.

Beaulieu did, as expected, spend the rest of the regular season on the LTI list. Although he joined the team for practices, he never got into the lineup during their opening-round playoff series against the New York Rangers.

The two-year contract, which carried a $1.25 million cap hit, that he signed with the Jets in 2020 is expiring, and Beaulieu will be free to sign with any team when free agency begins next month.

The Penguins have given no indication about whether they’re interested in keeping him or, if so, how much they’re willing to spend to make it happen. Similarly, it’s not known whether Beaulieu has any particular interest in staying here.

To be sure, his future is not the most significant issue surrounding the Penguins’ defense corps this summer; this is nowhere near the magnitude of, say, whether Kris Letang decides to move on. Beaulieu is a depth defenseman whose history suggests he is unlikely to rise above the third pairing on a competitive team.

He had no goals, four assists and 25 penalty minutes in 24 games with the Jets in 2021-22, when he averaged just 10 minutes, 24 seconds of ice time per game.

Montreal claimed him in the first round of the 2011 draft (17th overall) after Beaulieu put up 37 goals and 115 assists in 233 games over four seasons with St. John of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.

The offensive abilities he showed in junior never translated to the NHL, however, and Beaulieu has just 12 goals and 82 assists in 419 games at this level; his most productive season was 2016-17, when he had career-highs in goals (4), assists (24) and points (28) while playing for the Canadiens.

What Nathan Beaulieu, 29, can provide is muscle, a quality that’s in short supply on the Penguins’ blue line. He is 6-2, 200 pounds, and has lasted in the league, at least in part, because of his toughness.

He has a reputation for sticking up for teammates and Beaulieu’s willingness to physically challenge opponents around the net could be an asset for a unit that doesn’t consistently hit anyone who ventures near the Penguins’ crease.

Of course, none of that will matter if Ron Hextall brought him in strictly as a no-risk insurance policy had the Penguins been able to go on an extended playoff run. In that case, his career here effectively ended the instant Game 7 against the Rangers did.

But if management concludes that the Pittsburgh Penguins would benefit from what Beaulieu can provide, he just might get a chance to pull on that game sweater a few times, after all.

Subscribe to PHN+
10 Comments
Subscribe
Notify of
guest
10 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Frank
Frank
29 days ago

Interesting points in your column Dave. While I understand Sully’s lack of interest in one dimensional players taking a spot on the bench . . . and while it is hypocritical to verbally attack Jacob Trouba while contemplating the addition of our own Trouba . . . it makes me wonder if having Beaulieu would have cooled Trouba’s “enthusiam” a bit? He probably would still have run Crosby . . . and I seriously doubt Beaulieu frightens Trouba . . BUT . .. the ice would be a much more dangerous place for a number of the more passive Ranger… Read more »

Katz is Dumb
Katz is Dumb
29 days ago
Reply to  Frank

Let me be frank with you Frank, it is only hypocritical if you cheer for/encourage borderline dirty hits. Nobody attacked Trouba for being a tough hockey player, they attacked him for multiple late, high hits.

Chase Cranson
Chase Cranson
29 days ago
Reply to  Dave Molinari

Dave let’s be frank with Frank the Pens need at least one Trouba on the team its been a while since we had one and when we did didn’t see so many concussions Eh?

Irish Hammer
Irish Hammer
28 days ago
Reply to  Dave Molinari

Very accurate response. Trouba picks his spots and a punk. He didn’t cheap shot any Islanders. Ross Johnston or Matt Martin would have head hunted him. He’s a punk and dirty. Not a tough player.

Frank
Frank
29 days ago
Reply to  Katz is Dumb

And there is the rub. The NHL says it was “just a hockey play” and when the owner of the game defines that then it is not a high dirty hockey hit no matter what most of the rest of the world sees. So allow me to alter Coach Sullivan’s mantra and say “OK LET’S play”

Irish Hammer
Irish Hammer
28 days ago
Reply to  Frank

Frank, there are numerous NHL players that would beat Trouba senseless and some have already. Nathan does not have their fighting ability or nastiness. Trouba knows Pens have no one to fear.

Chase Cranson
Chase Cranson
29 days ago

He is gone they will not have any muscle on this team and the NHL will condone the cheap hit’s the Rangers will keep on with their agenda is a joke to think anything will change the window is closed

Mark
Mark
29 days ago

Sign him to a cheap contract and let Coaches work with him in camp unless they have someone else they might be targeting. Also, periods in sentences are a good thing.

Bill Maloni
Bill Maloni
29 days ago

Keep him because you have no muscle/sand on the roster or in WBS.

Join PHN Extra!

Join PHN+ today for exclusive content from Dan, Dave and Shelly plus a completely Google ad-free experience.

PHN+

Or enter your email below to sign-up for our mailing list.

Thank you!

Something went wrong.

No thanks. I don't want.