Canadiens send defenceman Nathan Beaulieu to Sabres for third-round pick

Beaulieu was the 17th overall pick back in 2011 and had spent his entire National Hockey League career with the Canadiens until now. First and second-year professionals did not require protection, so Buffalo could rest easy knowing players such as Jack Eichel and Sam Reinhart weren't going anywhere.

Vancouver Canucks centre Michael Chaput (45) fights for control of the puck with Montreal Canadiens defenceman Nathan Beaulieu (28) during first period National Hockey League action in Vancouver on March 7, 2017.

Before that Nate split time between Montreal and Hamilton (the Habs old AHL affiliate) from 2012-13 to 2014-15.

He also opened the regular season on Montreal's top pairing with Shea Weber, but was quickly moved in favour of Alexi Emelin. In 225 career National Hockey League regular-season games, Beaulieu has totaled 60 points (7 goals, 53 assists) and a plus-19 rating, adding four points in 17 career playoff games. "After just a handful of games, [then head coach] Michel Therrien decided he had seen enough". Montreal lost that game 3-1 at Madison Square Gardens and lost the series 4-2.

"Obviously, it's disappointing", Beaulieu said of being a healthy scratch against NY, per the Montreal Gazette.

In dropping down the depth chart the expansion draft demanded the Canadiens make a choice-leave him unprotected with the possibility that the Knights might take him or trade him.