A six-year professional in his first NHL season, Beauchemin was languishing in Columbus where he saw limited ice time if he dressed at all. Everything changed when the Ducks sent one-time superstar Sergei Fedorov and his cumbersome $6 million contract to the Blue Jackets for journeyman forward Tyler Wright and the young defenseman with a big, booming slap shot.
|Francois Beauchemin's heavy slap shot keeps the Ducks' power play clicking. (Getty Images)|
"I couldn't ask for anything better than what has happened this year," Beauchemin said. "It's been amazing for me."
For the Ducks as well.
While Fedorov managed to score only 12 goals in 67 games with Columbus and Wright was soon dropped from the Mighty Ducks roster, Beauchemin finished as the league's fourth highest-scoring rookie defenseman and staked a place alongside Scott Niedermayer on Anaheim's top blue line pairing.
Several members of Anaheim's great crop of young players -- Joffrey Lupul, Ryan Getzlaf, Ilya Bryzgalov -- are garnering headlines for their timely exploits in these playoffs. Beauchemin quietly does his thing, leading all rookies in points, assists and power-play goals while chewing up more than 27 minutes of ice per game.
"He's been a really important player who does a lot of things well," said Mighty Ducks general manager Brian Burke. "He's a thick body guy who can handle traffic, he's got a hard shot, he can fight and he moves the puck."
That's a skill set the Ducks expected when they made the move. Burke said he never considered Beauchemin a throw-in, rather a player the team wanted because he had a lot of upside.
"I didn't know much about him, but Bob (assistant GM Murray) had some great reports on him," Burke said. "He said we shouldn't do the deal unless he was part of it."
Which meant a real honest-to-goodness NHL opportunity was there for Beauchemin. The catch was: He had some work to do to take advantage of it.
"At first, I had to lose 10 pounds," Beauchemin said. "I was playing at 220 in Columbus and maybe 13, 14 minutes a game, and then I came here and they told me I was going to get a chance to play more, but I had to be able to move better.
"I knew I was very fortunate to get put in that trade and to have the opportunity to play on a regular basis, but I had to get into better shape."