When a player hits his mid-30s, there’s often a decline – whether in skill, speed or his overall game.
Someone forgot to tell Francois Beauchemin.
The Ducks defenseman (and resident graybeard along the blueline) posted career numbers in the 2014-15 season, collecting 11 goals while maintaining a hard-hitting and puck-moving presence in his own end. Always known for his physical play, Beauchemin finished second on the team in hits (105), tied for second in blocked shots (107) and finished tops among skaters in time on ice (22:44).
Among his notable accomplishments, Beauchemin became the second-oldest player in the last 40 years to score 10 goals for the first time at 34 years, 298 days (last: Pat Conacher in 1993-94, 34 years, 306 days). He also passed Oleg Tverdovsky for sole possession of second on the club’s all-time list among defensemen for points, goals and assists. Beauchemin also became the second Ducks defenseman to reach the 500-game milestone, joining the all-time franchise leader for defensemen, Ruslan Salei (594).
Beauchemin continued his strong play in the postseason. He skated in all 16 games, leading defenseman with nine assists. Similar to the regular season, he also led all skaters in time on ice (25:24).
The milestones didn’t stop in the regular season. Beauchemin passed Scott Niedermayer to become the franchise leader in postseason assists by a defenseman (29) and points among blueliners (10-29=39). He remains tied with Ryan Getzlaf for the franchise lead in postseason games played (97).
The impressive numbers aren’t limited to traditional statistics. His PDO (the total of his shooting percentage and save percentage while on the ice) was 101.2, continuing a three-year trend of an above-100 rating. He also posted a 50.1 Corsi for percentage, marking the first time in four seasons he topped the 50-percent mark.
Beauchemin’s future with the team remains in doubt, however, as he enters this summer an unrestricted free agent. “I’m not going to lie to you – it’s going to be hard [to resign both Matt Beleskey and Francois Beauchemin],” Ducks Executive Vice President/General Manager Bob Murray told the media during his end of the season interview. “We’re going to take a shot – and take it quickly – but I have a lot of things in front of me, tagging wise, when it comes to that.”
Beauchemin wants to remain with Anaheim.
“I don’t have 10 years left,” he said during his exit interview. “I’m hoping those last few years will be here.”
Beauchemin reached the elusive double-digit goal total for the first time on a Sunday afternoon in New Jersey. Anaheim held a 1-0 lead through two periods, buoyed by a strong performance from John Gibson. The next goal loomed large, and Beauchemin made it count.
The play started with Tomas Fleischmann, who corralled a pass from Ryan Kesler beneath the goal line. He spun off a check from Stefan Matteau, finding Kyle Palmieri along the side boards. Palmieri filtered the puck to Beauchemin at the point, who wasted no time firing a slapshot on net. The puck zipped past a ducking Kesler, deflected off Jon Merrill and fluttered by Cory Schneider for the goal.
At first, Beauchemin didn’t realize the goal was his.
“I thought it went off of Kesler’s shoulder,” he said. “Palmy [Kyle Palmieri] made a great play to go around the circle and set me up for the one-timer.”
Just another incredible play in a memorable season for Beauchemin.