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Toronto signs Beauchemin to three-year deal

Monday, 07.06.2009 / 4:51 PM / 2009 NHL Offseason News

By Brian Hunter - Staff Writer

"Francois will be a welcome addition to our blue line.  He’s a rock-solid, steady defender that will add character to our team."
-- Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke

During his four seasons in Anaheim, Francois Beauchemin developed into a hard-hitting defenseman who was reliable in his own end, but also able to join the attack and contribute some offense.

Those qualities made him a perfect fit for the Toronto Maple Leafs, whose general manager, Brian Burke, held the same title with the Ducks when they won the 2007 Stanley Cup with Beauchemin on the roster. Burke was pleased to announce on Monday the signing of the 29-year-old Quebec native to a three-year contract TSN reports is worth an average of $3.8 million per season.

"Francois will be a welcome addition to our blue line," Burke said in a statement announcing the signing. "He’s a rock-solid, steady defender that will add character to our team."

Beauchemin, a former third-round pick by the Montreal Canadiens, has played 246 career games, all but 12 with Anaheim, scoring 21 goals and adding 69 assists. He represents another piece in Burke's plan to add size and snarl to the Leafs' roster, joining fellow free agent defenseman Mike Komisarek, who signed a five-year deal last week.

"I try to play an aggressive style, be solid in the 'D' zone. I try to contribute offensively when I get the chance to. I try to be hard to play against and not give up goals against," Beauchemin said. "I'm not going to change anything. If Burkie signed me it's because he knows what I can do."

After averaging 75 games over his first three seasons, Beauchemin played in only 20 regular-season games in 2008-09 after suffering a torn ACL in November. He missed all but the final two games of the regular season following the injury. However, the 29-year old was able to skate in all 13 of the Ducks' playoff games, scoring a goal and taking 15 minutes in penalties.

Beauchemin, who contributed four goals and four assists in 20 games during the Ducks' run to the Cup in '07, is looking forward to playing for a revamped Toronto defense that now includes Komisarek and Garnet Exelby, in addition to young talent like Luke Schenn.

"You look at the roster and there's obviously some size with Komisarek and Exelby. I'll try to fit in and do what I can do to help the team," said Beauchemin, who had the benefit of skating on the same blue line with Scott Niedermayer and Chris Pronger during his time in Anaheim.

Now he gets the opportunity to prove himself and be a veteran presence Schenn and other up-and-comers on the Leafs can seek out.

"I see it as a chance. I played with two of the best in Prongs and Scotty," Beauchemin said. "I learned a lot watching them play and just coming to the rink … now it's just for me to move from that and show what I can do."

Beauchemin was originally acquired by the Ducks along with Tyler Wright on No. 15, 2005, in a deal that sent Sergei Fedorov to Columbus. He flourished on the West Coast, where he originally hoped to stay put, but said the Ducks never reached out to him or his agent.

"They told me back in November they were going to offer me something, but the day I got hurt everything changed," Beauchemin said. "We waited all year long and [into the summer] and there were no offers whatsoever.

"When we didn't get word from them we started looking and I wanted to maybe come back east and be close to home, somewhere where hockey is the No. 1 sport."

Beauchemin was also one of 16 defensemen invited to attend Team Canada's Olympic summer orientation camp in Calgary next month.

"I was really surprised, really excited" to get the invite, Beauchemin said. "I didn't expect that to happen. Obviously I must have done something they liked. Playing versus the Red Wings in the playoffs [after coming back from the ACL injury] probably helped."

It was a busy day for the Maple Leafs, who also signed first-round draft pick Nazem Kadri and five other players, including Ben Ondrus and Ryan Hamilton.

Quote of the Day

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— Detroit's Pavel Datsyuk, who on Wednesday became the ninth Russian-born player, and ninth Red Wings player, to score 300 NHL goals
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