In the 2018 NHL draft, the Chicago Blackhawks held two first-round picks: Adam Boqvist, 8th overall, and Nicolas Beaudin, selected at 27th.
In 2018, the slot that Nicolas Beaudin was chosen was acquired by the Chicago Blackhawks from the Nashville Predators in a trade involving Ryan Hartman, a prospect long regarded as the “second Andrew Shaw”.
Things between Hartman and the Blackhawks didn’t work out, but this proved to be a great thing for the Blackhawks as they took one of their first of two steals in the draft, the other being Philipp Kurashev, drafted near the end of the fourth round.
Nicolas Beaudin is arguably one of the best defensemen on the Blackhawks at the moment though his stats don’t show it. His +3 rating is extremely impressive, especially when you understand that he’s the guy who usually bails Nikita Zadorov out after Zadorov made a mistake. His positioning and intelligently using his stick to defend is also something to take note of as he barely takes penalties.
He has a great offensive upside as well, given his five points in eleven games. As an offensive defenseman, this is expected, but not by a first-year rookie. His puck possession can be trusted by the coaching staff, unlike his usual defensive partner in Zadorov.
There were many times when Zadorov would make a boneheaded mistake, such as pinch when the other team is attempting to start a breakout play, missing the puck entirely, and leaving Beaudin to deal with a 2 on 1. I think Zadorov was placed with Beaudin to cover Beaudin’s overaggressive offensive tendencies, but he hasn’t displayed any of those – Zadorov has.
"The NHL played an outdoor game and the Blackhawks weren’t in it"
Beaudin is a great powerplay quarterback, with his underrated shot and passing ability. The second powerplay unit is arguably the most effective for the Blackhawks at the moment, with multiple plays that could be made. He possesses a hard, accurate shot as well, which has helped the team get back into games. He could have had more goals to his name if the post didn’t stop him (such as the hit post against I think Carolina).
To summarize, Beaudin was a steal for the Blackhawks, one of two in the 2018 draft (Philipp Kurashev being the other) thanks to his high offensive upside with a strong shot and great passing, and his defensive reliability, with smart stick positioning and awareness. He should be able to play without worrying about Zadorov every shift, and his 9 minutes of ice time vs Carolina was uncalled for.