It’s hard to remember the last time the Chicago Blackhawks farm system was this loaded with defensive prospects. There’s 2018 top-ten pick Adam Boqvist, who joined a group that already boasted 2017 first-round pick Henri Jokiharju 2017 second-round pick Ian Mitchell and 2016 second-round pick Chad Krys. And in the middle of all that is the second player that the Blackhawks selected in the first round of the 2018 draft: Nicolas Beaudin.
Birth date: Oct. 7, 1999
Acquired via: 2018 NHL Entry Draft — first round (27th overall)
Most recent stop: Drummondville Voltigeurs — QMJHL
Size: 5’11, 180 pounds
Last year’s ranking: Unranked
Stop us if you’ve heard this before: the Blackhawks selected an undersized but skilled defenseman who thrives in the offensive end of the ice. Yes, Beaudin fits the archetype of offensive defenseman that has become very popular with the Blackhawks in recent drafts, but there is one category where Beaudin stands out above the rest: moving the puck. He racked up 57 assists (and 12 goals) while playing 68 games in the QMJHL last season, and his ability to find an open teammate and hit them with a perfect pass is the primary reason — it’s the one trait of Beaudin’s that jumps off the screen.
Just watch all the smooth passes from the guy wearing No. 92 in this 12-minute highlight reel:
There’s plenty more information available on Beaudin from this pre-draft article by our colleagues at Habs Eyes on the Prize, who also floated Beaudin as a piece for the Montreal Canadiens to target in a hypothetical move that would send Max Pacioretty to Chicago.
Since being drafted by the Hawks, there’s been little to no buzz about Beaudin, which isn’t necessarily a good or bad thing. Beaudin was at prospect camp, but did not grab any headlines during that week. He’s largely been overshadowed by a player who was taken in the top 10 in Boqvist and a few other prospects who’ve been in the system for longer and are much closer to breaking through to the NHL level. For Beaudin, who’s only 18 years old, the NHL is probably still a few years away, which gives Beaudin time to polish parts of his game that will need to improve to make him a legit NHLer, largely in the defensive portions of the game. Beaudin would also benefit from adding strength to help him handle the rigors of professional hockey.
What’s next in 2018-19?
Beaudin will head back to the QMJHL for the 2018-19 season, again suiting up for Drummondville.