The Pittsburgh Penguins made the first deal of the NHL trade deadline Monday. Before sunrise, the Penguins and GM Ron Hextall acquired depth defenseman Nathan Beaulieu from the Winnipeg Jets for a conditional seventh-round pick.
The trade was posted on the TSN trade tracker around 5:30 a.m. It was also the first Penguins trade of the deadline season.
Beaulieu, 29, is on LTIR after suffering a lower-body injury against the Dallas Stars on March 4. He was placed on LTIR on March 9 and must remain out for 24 days and 10 games from that point.
This season, the 6-foot-2, 200-pound defenseman has played in 24 games with four assists. He also has three fighting majors this season, including a Jan. 23 scrap with Penguins forward Brian Boyle.
Beaulieu is a former Montreal Canadiens defenseman. He also played parts of two seasons with the Buffalo Sabres and the last three-plus seasons with Winnipeg. He has been a depth defender in Winnipeg, not playing more than 48 games in any of the last four seasons.
Nathan Beaulieu is represented by Phil Lecavalier, Kris Letang’s new agent, and was the Montreal Canadiens first-round pick (11th overall) in 2011. Beaulieu has played in 419 NHL games with 94 points (12-82-94) and 301 penalty minutes.
The left-handed defenseman will be a UFA after the season. He carries a $1.25 million cap hit.
As of 7 a.m. the Pittsburgh Penguins have not yet made the trade official. PHN will have a running live blog throughout the NHL trade deadline day on Monday, as well as cover the Penguins’ practice on Monday morning.
Darren Dreger of TSN was the first to break the news.
On the surface, the trade is a curious move by Hextall. The Penguins already have five defensemen capable of playing NHL minutes on the left side, including Mark Friedman and top prospect P.O. Joseph. However, they have none whose game includes an occasional fight, or more specifically, none they want to see drop the gloves. But adding a sixth LHD, and one who is on LTIR does open the door to a larger move.
According to Puckpedia.com, the Pittsburgh Penguins trade gives them over $5.3 million in LTIR pool money and $4.750 million of salary-cap space.