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Beaudin determined to keep building two-way game for Blackhawks

Defenseman prospect working to improve physical presence

by Chris Kuc / Correspondent

CHICAGO -- Nicolas Beaudin was in the crowd the day Corey Crawford brought the Stanley Cup to Chateauguay, Quebec, after the goaltender helped the Chicago Blackhawks win the championship in 2015.

These days, Beaudin can imagine playing in front of Crawford after the Blackhawks selected the 18-year-old defenseman with the No. 27 pick in the 2018 NHL Draft. Beaudin took a significant step toward that dream by showcasing his skills at Blackhawks development camp, which ended Friday.

Those skills include a strong offensive game. He had 69 points (12 goals, 57 assists) in 68 games with Drummondville of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League last season.

"I'm a smooth skater and I move the puck pretty well," said Beaudin, who was thrilled to receive a text from Crawford moments after being selected in the draft. "I like to join the rush, too, and I'm good in the neutral zone at finding my teammates when they're alone."

The puck-moving defenseman said he models his game after Jake Gardiner of the Toronto Maple Leafs, but also admires the qualities of a current member of the Blackhawks.

"I like a guy like Duncan Keith, too," Beaudin said. "I see myself sometimes when he plays. He's really smart and I think that's what I want to bring to the Blackhawks organization."

Video: Blackhawks draft D Nicolas Beaudin No. 27

Beaudin realizes being strong offensively alone won't help his progression to the NHL.

"In Drummondville last year, I think I showed I can be a two-way defenseman and not just an offensive player," he said. "If I want to play in the NHL, I have to be a two-way defenseman."

That was what then-Drummondville coach Dominique Ducharme stressed to him.

"He told me to take more pride defensively like I take it offensively," Beaudin said, "and that just changed my career."

During development camp, Beaudin's skills caught the attention of Chicago general manager Stan Bowman.

"Looking at his talents, he's got really good instincts in terms of how to defend and also how to complement with offense," Bowman said. "[He's a] really polished, smooth player. He makes it look pretty easy. He's not one of those guys who exerts a ton of energy but he's a very efficient defender.

"This is a big year for him to take the next step in terms of his physical development."

Beaudin (5-foot-11, 175 pounds) said his offseason work has been geared toward becoming more of a physical presence.

"I want to work on my agility so I can be quicker and faster, and I want to be bigger, too," he said. "At this camp, you can see the guys are bigger so I'm working on my strength all over my body and on my shot, too."

As far as a timetable to reach the NHL, Beaudin said he will leave that up to the Blackhawks, but it figures to be several seasons from now.

"I'm just going to keep that in their hands and not concentrate on that," he said. "When I was younger my goal was to play in the NHL, but my main goal now is to win a Stanley Cup."

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