2011 NHL Entry Draft: Montreal Canadiens Have Great Asset in Nathan Beaulieu

Felix SicardCorrespondent IJune 25, 2011

ST PAUL, MN - JUNE 24:  Seventh overall pick Nathan Beaulieu by the Montreal Canadiens stands onstage for a photo with Director of Procurement and Player Development Trevor Timmins  and a member of the Montreal Canadiens organization during day one of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft at Xcel Energy Center on June 24, 2011 in St Paul, Minnesota.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

After the whirlwind season that saw them get knocked out of the playoffs in Game 7 of the first round by the rival Boston Bruins, the Montreal Canadiens were once again on the hunt to improve their squad at this year's entry draft, one that saw a deep pool of talented players get called up to the stage by their new employers. 

Through a truly disgraceful barrage of booing for having addressed Canadiens fans in French at the podium, general manager Pierre Gauthier selected defenseman Nathan Beaulieu of the Saint John's Sea Dogs with the 17th overall pick. 

By drafting Bealieu, the Canadiens greatly improved their lot at a position of need, the blueline. With veterans such as Hal Gill, Andrei Markov and others not getting any younger, Gauthier needed to select a defenseman. 

While it could be argued that Montreal has one of the deeper groups of prospects on the back end, there still exists a need for good defensemen in the organization. 

Looking at the team's organizational depth chart, the Habs' top propspects on D are Yannick Weber, Jarred Tinordi, Brendon Nash, Alexei Yemelin and Mathieu Carle. Definitely not a shoddy group, but no member stands out as a solid, grade A prospect.

The addition of Bealieu brings a solid two-way game into that group, as well as a great skating ability, ont that TSN analyst Pierre Mcguire even went out to compare to that of fan favorite P.K Subban.

Interestingly, Subban is the gem of the organization on the back end, yet was selected 45th overall in the 2007 draft. And given the Canadiens' history with blueliners drafted in the first round in recent years, there is some cause for concern that Beaulieu will not pan out.

However, Beaulieu should be the least of management's worries. 

Givern his excellent ability to man the point, strong physical play, skating ability, and a willingness to drop the gloves, the young Beaulieu will bring many elements that the Habs have often lacked in recent years, as evidenced in the Boston series where the Bruins dominated physically.

With another solid draft pick in the books, the Montreal Canadiens are continuing their steady ascent to contender status.