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The Habs have made their first selection of the 2011 NHL Draft, selecting
Nathan Beaulieu from the QMJHL and Memorial Cup champion Saint John Sea Dogs
with the 17th overall pick.  The 6’2 defencemen was ranked 5th in North
American skaters by NHL Central Scouting and was pegged as a consensus top-15
pick in many mock drafts.

Beaulieu was the model of consistency offensively as he had an identical
point output (12-33-45) in 2010-11 as he did in 2009-10.  His +44 rating
was a franchise record, surpassing the previous record of +43…which he set a
year earlier.  At the Memorial Cup, he had a goal and two assists and was
named to the tournament All-Star team.

Beaulieu is described as a strong skater and is technically sound.  He
has a very well rounded offensive game and isn’t afraid to throw a solid
bodycheck.  He does make some questionable decisions with the puck and
isn’t particularly strong at this juncture of his career.

This marks the second straight season that the Canadiens have selected a
defenceman with their top pick in the draft.  Last year, the Habs traded up
to select Jarred Tinordi.  GM Pierre Gauthier admitted there were offers
for Montreal to trade down but noted that they preferred to take Beaulieu here
as they didn’t think he would last much longer on the board.  It will be a
while before Montreal makes their next selection, they will be picking 77th

Visit HabsWorld Draft Central for coverage of the 2011 NHL Draft