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Carolina Hurricanes

Can Nathan Beaulieu Crack The Opening Night Roster?



Carolina Hurricans, Nathan Beaulieu, Brady Skjei, Brett Pesce

After an offseason that saw the Hurricanes bolster their blue line with the additions of Dmitry Orlov, Tony DeAngelo, and Caleb Jones, they have one of, if not, the best defensemen group in the NHL.

Add in Jaccob Slavin, Brett Burns, Brett Pesce, and Brady Skjei and you’ll understand why they’re so highly touted.

While one of Skjei or Pesce may be out the door via trade, for all intents and purposes, Carolina is loaded on the blue line.

On Tuesday, they signed former first round pick Nathan Beaulieu to a Professional Tryout, giving him the opportunity to play his way onto the roster.

With the abundance of talent on defense, is that possible?

Beaulieu has spent 12 seasons at the NHL level, seeing action in 52 games for the Anaheim Ducks a season ago. He was a -23 while on the ice and tallied just four points.

Last season, defenseman Calvin de Haan and forward Derek Stepan both earned contracts and found themselves on the roster following Professional Tryouts in Raleigh. While de Haan would appear in 53 contests, Stepan saw action in 73 games.

As it stands, the Hurricanes currently have 10 defensemen under contract heading into training camp, one more than the number of defensemen that appeared in a game last season.

Out of those nine, there figures to be eight guaranteed spots secured on the blue line, barring a trade of Pesce or Skjei.

Add in a lack of an AHL affiliate with the Chicago Wolves turning independent, and you get a plethora of depth.

Former Quinnipiac and University of Denver standout Griffin Mendel, who is on an entry-level deal, and Dylan Coghlan are the two remaining blue liners under contract and could potentially be on the outside looking in.

If there were to be nine defenseman carried, which is unlikely, it appears the trio of Mendel, Coghlan, and Beaulieu are fighting for one spot.

Last season, Carolina opened the campaign with just eight defensemen and with the loaded talent on the blue line, a healthy scratch would be in the cards quite frequently.

Mendel could find himself in the AHL again after playing in 72 contests with the Wolves last season, while Coghlan, who appeared in just 17 games during the 2022-2023 campaign, played in just one contest after the All-Star break.

For Nathan Beaulieu, a spot on the opening night roster, barring a trade or injury, is unlikely. The fact of the matter is that the Hurricanes already have eight capable, and in most cases, above average defensemen.

Their top three defensive pairings are as talented as any in the league and Caleb Jones and Jalen Chatfield, who will likely find themselves as the seventh and eighth defenders, are much more productive.

Beaulieu turns 31 in December and at this point in his career, his peak seems to be in the rearview.

I would certainly not be shocked to see him make his way onto the roster at some point this season and see time on the ice, but as of now, he does not appear to be one of the top eight defensemen in Raleigh.

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