Nathan Beaulieu played the Montreal Canadiens final eleven games before the Olympic break, and was sent down to the Hamilton Bulldogs when the National Hockey League schedule went into its Olympic hiatus.
It was assumed that Beaulieu would be back with the big club once the Canadiens resumed its schedule tomorrow, but it was fellow defender Jarred Tinordi who was called up to the big club.
Tinordi began the season with the Canadiens, but after playing six games and being a healthy scratch on several occasions, he was sent down to the Bulldogs.
Tinordi struggled with Montreal this season but played well enough to earn a regular roster spot late last season and into the NHL playoffs. Jarred played all five games against the Ottawa Senators, and though he was solid as a rookie, the Canadiens bowed out quickly.
Tinordi has played exceptionally well for Hamilton this season, using his size to defend his own zone and becoming a much better skater than he was a year ago. When Beaulieu returned to the Bulldogs from Montreal, it was expected he would dominate the American Hockey League.
However, since he made his trip back to Hamilton, Beaulieu’s play was up and down, as he scored four assists in six games, but was also a minus four in that span. In the same time, Tinordi played five games before being called up, scored a goal and an assist and was a plus one.
If the Montreal Canadiens were just looking for a puck moving defenseman, they would have brought Beaulieu back up. However, Tinordi plays a much safer style, is much more physical at 6’6″ and well over 200 pounds, plays a better defensive game and outplayed Beaulieu over the past few weeks to earn this recall.
The Habs did a similar thing last year, when they recalled all of their young AHL defensemen in the weeks leading up to the trade deadline. Both of these former first round picks as well as Greg Pateryn made their NHL debuts at this time last year.
This gives the coaching staff and management team a chance to see if their young defensemen are NHL ready, or if they need to make a trade to upgrade their blue line.
Beaulieu played very well and surely impressed the Montreal Canadiens over the past few weeks. The Habs just want to get a look at all of their top AHL defensemen.
The only way to get a look at Tinordi was to swap him in for Beaulieu, but it won’t be long before both former first rounders are on the Habs blue line together.