Nathan Beaulieu doesn’t figure to be the most important member of the Buffalo Sabres’ defense. Even so, Beaulieu feels somewhat symbolic of the transition to an attacking, mobile group – at least ideally – under new head coach Phil Housley.
The Sabres needed to agree to a contract for the RFA first, though, and they did that on Monday, signing Beaulieu to a two-year, $4.8 million deal. That’s worth $2.4 million per season.
In the process, they avoid a salary arbitration hearing that was scheduled for Aug. 4.
The Sabres acquired Beaulieu, 24, from the Montreal Canadiens for a third-round pick. Beaulieu himself was the 17th selection of the 2011 NHL Draft, but perhaps he took too long to show his potential to Habs brass.
That said, Beaulieu generated career-highs across the board in 2016-17 including in games played (74), points (28), and average ice time (19:29, two minutes more than his previous peak). There have been ups and downs for Beaulieu along the way; even so, at the moment he stands as another polarizing personnel decision by Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin.
Meanwhile, Beaulieu gets a clean slate with the Sabres, who also have revamped their defense by adding Marco Scandella and Matt Tennyson to the mix (while letting Dmitry Kulikov and Cody Franson leave via free agency).
Beaulieu stood as the final lingering arbitration hearing for Buffalo, but they still need to deal with RFA Zemgus Girgensons.