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Ducks bolster defense with Beauchemin

Wednesday, 02.09.2011 / 1:33 PM

By Adam Kimelman - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor / Road to Trade Deadline Day

Many general managers believe you never can have enough experienced defensemen, and you certainly can put Ducks GM Bob Murray in that group.

Murray today brought Francois Beauchemin back to Anaheim, a move that bolsters their defensive depth with a big, strong, experienced, puck-moving defensemen who can play big minutes.

Beauchemin has just 12 points in 54 games with the Leafs this season, but he had been used in more of a defensive-oriented role. He's a minus-4, but was second on the team with 23:45 of ice time per game, including 2:48 per game shorthanded.

Beauchemin's durability should take some of the ice-time pressure off the Ducks' top-four defenders, Lubomir Visnovsky, rookie Cam Fowler, Toni Lydman and Paul Mara, all of whom average more than 20 minutes per game.

And while Beauchemin's offensive numbers might be down, he does have a strong shot from the point, one that allowed him to score 8 goals in 61 games in 2005-06, and in his four previous seasons with the Ducks, he had 21 goals and 88 points in 234 games.

He also has a Stanley Cup ring to his credit, which he won while putting up 4 goals and 8 points in 20 playoff games en route to the 2007 championship.

To get Beauchemin, the Ducks had to surrender top defense prospect Jake Gardiner. The 17th pick of the 2008 Entry Draft, Gardiner has been fine-tuning his play at the University of Wisconsin. Now in his third season, he has 30 points in 30 games this season, and he also has a gold medal to his credit from the 2010 World Junior Championship.

Gardiner is renowned for his skating and speed. At 6-foot-1 and 173 pounds he needs to get bigger and stronger, but with top-end skating skills, he's a definite prospect.

In Joffrey Lupul, the Leafs receive a top-six forward who's just 27 and has scored at least 20 goals three times in five full NHL seasons.

However, Lupul has been plagued by back problems and a blood infection that limited him to just 23 games last season and kept him out of action until this past December. He has just 5 goals in 26 games -- and 1 goal in his last 14 -- but if healthy, the talent clearly is there.

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I downplayed the first one because I thought it's just a hockey game. We just want to win the game; it's against our rival and we want the two points. I downplayed it, but now having gone through the first one I look back and say, 'Geez, that was really cool.' I think as I've grown a bit older I've got a lot more appreciation for what we're allowed to do every day.

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