At simply 5-foot-10 and 178 kilos, Nicolas Beaudin rapidly realized that the bounce from Canadian junior hockey to the American Hockey League can be further troublesome for him.
The Blackhawks’ second first spherical choose in 2018 — they nabbed Adam Boqvist eighth, then Beaudin 27th — has spent his first half of the season making that bounce, and he’s lastly beginning to see outcomes.
“It’s getting higher,” Beaudin stated this week in Rockford. “At first, I had a troublesome time transitioning from junior to professional. However these days, I’ve been enjoying good. Defensively, I’m higher, I’m faster on guys, my hole’s higher within the impartial zone.”
What the 20-year-old defenseman lacks in measurement and energy — although he’s been doing his finest to achieve within the latter class — he makes up for in intelligence and in-depth understanding of hockey.
That analytical mentality is what makes Beaudin most stand out as a prospect.
“I’m getting smarter, too,” he stated. “I’m attending to know the league, methods to play towards larger guys, so it’s getting simpler for me. For certain I need to get stronger, but when I’m going right into a nook towards a man that’s 220, I’m going to play smarter than him, that’s all.”
Any AHL defenseman can say that. However not any can really overcome a 42-pound differential with cleverness alone.
Beaudin is aware of the precise formulation, although, and may recite it instantly.
“My first three strides must be actually quick,” he stated. “I’ve to attempt to get to the puck earlier than him or similtaneously him, so he doesn’t have time to show his again on me, so I can poke him straight away. But when he does, I’ve simply obtained to include him, and I’ve obtained to maintain his again on me so he doesn’t flip and make a play. In order that’s the most important factor.”
Beaudin’s hockey IQ comes from watching NHL video games religiously on AHL off-nights, from working intently with IceHogs video coach Adam Gill and from having a coach for a father — Stephane Beaudin nonetheless sends his son clips on a regular basis, Nicolas stated.
IceHogs coach Derek King has been laborious on him, too, to speed up that improvement.
“He’s matured at a very good tempo, simply not as fast as another guys,” King stated. “He’s heading in the right direction. He’s gotten higher because the season’s gone on. Now he’s getting extra ice time.”
Beaudin entered this primary skilled season with a powerful observe report as an offensive defenseman — he averaged greater than some extent per sport, even from the blue line, his final two years within the QMJHL — however in want of defensive work, like a lot of the Hawks’ different upper-tier prospects.
His expertise through the first half of the season has made him comfy sufficient that he’s letting his pure offensive inclinations free once more. Over his first 21 video games, he averaged 1.2 pictures on aim; in his most up-to-date 13, he’s averaged 2.zero.
“I do know I’ve the offensive facet, so when you get the defensive facet, I do know I’m a extra full participant,” he stated. “Simply attempting to get some extra pictures on web.”
Due to their draft timing, Beaudin will at all times be in comparison with Boqvist. Contemplating the super quick success the latter has loved with the Hawks these days, that may very well be seen as an unlucky lens for Beaudin.
However he as an alternative views it as a supply of inspiration.
“I’ve obtained a pair issues to work on, however I don’t suppose I’m too far [from the NHL],” he stated.