Tha Sports Junkies 101

Could Francois Beauchemin find his way back to Toronto?

Could Francois Beauchemin find his way back to Toronto? Kerri Polizzi/via Flickr

Veteran defenseman bought out by Colorado, could help young Toronto blue line


With the expansion draft about a week away now, teams all over the NHL are making tough decisions about who to protect and expose. We’ve seen, in the last couple of days, some teams buying out players to try and help themselves. The Colorado Avalanche made one of those moves on Thursday, announcing they will buy out defenseman Francois Beauchemin.

Beauchemin had one year remaining on a three-year contract he signed with the Avalanche in the summer of 2015. At 37 years old, and a cap hit of $4.5 million, it’s not hard to see why the Colorado brass would want to buy out the veteran.

However, I don’t think Beauchemin’s playing days are over.


To say the Avalanche’s 2016-17 regular season was bad is a vast understatement. Colorado managed to get only 48 points in the entire 82-game season. It was the first time during an 82-game season that an NHL team had less than 50 points since the 1999-2000 Atlanta Thrashers (39). Mind you, the Thrashers were an expansion team in their first season in 1999.

The veteran Beauchemin, though, had a decent season, personally.

The former Stanley Cup champion had five goals and 13 points in 81 games. He was one of only three players, and the only defenseman, to play at least 80 games for the Avalanche. That helped him reach, and surpass, 800 games played in the NHL. Beauchemin also led the team in blocked shots with 156 while average 21:30 of ice time per game.

Even though he’s at the tail end of his career, Beauchemin showed he can still play and bring a veteran presence and leadership to any team. This is why this makes the Toronto Maple Leafs an interesting possible destination for the veteran.


The Leafs surprised a lot of people last season in reaching the postseason for the first time since 2013. While they fell in six games, they gave the league-leading Washington Capitals all they could handle. This has given the Toronto fan base a renewed vigor about their team and its chances to contend soon.

One thing the Leafs probably do need is a bit more experience on the back end. Of the eight defensemen currently on their roster, six are younger than 30. Four of them are 25 or younger.

That defensive corps did gain plenty of regular season experience this past season. Four of the six young blue liners played in at least 67 games. However, their lack of playoff experience showed at times against the Capitals.

This is where Beauchemin could help.

Prior to the playoffs, Jake Gardiner, Matt Hunwick, Alexey Marchenko, and Roman Polak were the only Toronto defensemen with playoff experience. However, even after this spring’s series against Washington, Beauchemin still has more postseason games played (97) than the four of them combined (95).

Beauchemin, as mentioned earlier, has also previously won the Stanley Cup (2007), as well as reached three conference finals. While having young, quick legs is great, especially in today’s NHL, experience goes a long way when trying to win the Cup.


He also has experience playing in Toronto.

Beauchemin played for the Leafs in 2009-10 and part of 2010-11 before being dealt back to the Anaheim Ducks. Even though some people may overlook his season and a half with the Leafs, that actually helps Beauchemin.

Any one who’s been in hockey circles long enough will know the following and attention the Maple Leafs get in Toronto. Not just anybody can play in a city where hockey is followed intensely 24/7 and every play you make is scrutinized.

There have been NHL players from the area that have stated they’d love to player there. However, they are hesitant because of the constant attention, on and off the ice, that comes with playing there.

The stage being too big for him is not something Toronto general manager Lou Lamoriello would have to worry about if he goes after Beauchemin.


Now, I’m not saying that the Leafs will or should go after Beauchemin, but it wouldn’t hurt them to explore the possibility. Of course, though, the deal would have to make sense for both sides.

The good thing for Toronto is that they could possibly sign him for just one year. With just over $12 million is cap space, according to Cap Friendly, giving him $2-3 million for one season wouldn’t hurt them in the long run and would help in the short term.

Signing the veteran could also help since both Hunwick and Polak, their most experienced defensemen, are unrestricted free agents.

For Beauchemin, helping a team on the rise wouldn’t be bad, either. He could possibly play on the second pair and still get time on special teams. His shot blocking ability and physicality would help the penalty kill and his shot is still good enough to get him some time on the power play.

Only time will tell what will happen with the Leafs and with Beauchemin. If it happens, though, it could be a win-win for both sides.