Colorado Avalanche Francois Beauchemin More than Rental Player

Dec 17, 2015; Denver, CO, USA; Colorado Avalanche mascot Bernie and defenseman Francois Beauchemin (32) the first star of the game celebrates the win over the New York Islanders at the Pepsi Center. The Avalanche defeated the Islanders 2-1. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 17, 2015; Denver, CO, USA; Colorado Avalanche mascot Bernie and defenseman Francois Beauchemin (32) the first star of the game celebrates the win over the New York Islanders at the Pepsi Center. The Avalanche defeated the Islanders 2-1. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports /

Colorado Avalanche veteran defenseman Francois Beauchemin has become a valuable asset to the team.

When a team like the Colorado Avalanche takes on a player later in his career for a relatively short contract, he’s seen as a rental player. Generally these players were once elite talents and still show levels of brilliance unavailable to your role player even in his prime.

This was the case with the great Teemu Selanne, whom we only got to have for a year. This is certainly the case with Jarome Iginla, who will always be remembered as a Calgary Flame first and foremost.

This looked to be the case with defenseman Francois Beauchemin. We acquired him in free agency last summer and signed him to a three-year-contract worth $13.5 million. He’s currently the second best-paid defenseman on the team, though that’s likely to change when Tyson Barrie gets his new contract.

When the Colorado Avalanche first signed him, I, like so many others, figured the then-35-year-old was just going to be a rental player. However, Beauchemin’s actions from the 2015-16 season have convinced me that that’s not the type of player he is.

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Francois Beauchemin, as his name suggests, is a French Canadian, from Sorel-Tracy, Quebec, specifically. As a teen, he played hockey in the Quebec Amateur Athletic Association. In 1996, he started playing in the major juniors for the Laval Titan College Francais of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. He was a member of the QMJHL All Rookie team at the end of that season.

In 1998, the Titan moved to Bathurst of the QMJHL. That year, Beauchemin was plagued with injuries and played only 31 games. He dominated in the playoffs, though, and helped the team win the QMJHL’s President Cup. Current Florida Panthers goalie Roberto Luongo was the Acadie-Bathurst’s goalie at the time. Beauchemin started the following season with the Titans but got traded to the Moncton Wildcats.

A member of the QMJHL All-Rookie Team in 1997 and a Second Team All-Star in 2000, Beauchemin joined Montreal’s AHL affiliate in Quebec City in 2000-01 and spent two seasons with the club, while playing a handful of games with the ECHL’s Mississippi Sea Wolves before the Quebec franchise was moved to Hamilton for the 2002-03 season.

Prior NHL Teams

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Feb 8, 2015; Tampa, FL, USA; Anaheim Ducks defenseman Francois Beauchemin (23) works out prior to the game against the Tampa Bay Lightning at Amalie Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /

Francois Beauchemin was drafted by the Montreal Canadients in 1998. He went in the third round, 75th overall. However, from 1998 to 2002, Beauchemin bounced around the QMJHL, the AHL and even did a brief stint in the ECHL.

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Beauchemin finally made it to the NHL during the 2002-03 season, playing one game for the Montreal Canadiens. However, he continued to spend the majority of his time in the AHL until getting traded to the Columbus Blue Jackets.

It wasn’t until he got traded to Anaheim — then still the Mighty Ducks — in 2005 that he found NHL success.

Beauchemin played four seasons with Anaheim. Taking out his injury-plagued 2008-09 season (torn ACL), he averaged 27 points a season. He also got to play with one of the Colorado Avalanche’s greatest rental players, Teemu Selanne, when the latter was still with his proper team. Indeed, Beauchemin was on the Selanne-led 2007 team that won the Stanley Cup.

Beauchemin signed with the Toronto Maple Leafs as a unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2009. He spent most of two seasons with Toronto before being traded back to the Ducks in 2011. He proceeded to spend the next five seasons with Anaheim, during which time the team made the playoffs all but once.

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Beauchemin to the Colorado Avalanche

On July 1, 2015, the Colorado Avalanche signed Francois Beauchemin as an unrestricted free agent. The stated reason as the time — and it came to fruition — was for Beauchemin to be on the top defensive pairing with Colorado’s best defenseman, Erik Johnson.

Beauchemin had had a big role in Anaheim. He led the team in ice time, and he looked good from an analytics point of view. (Once again proving that the Colorado Avalanche do not ignore advanced stats.)

Francois had spent nine seasons in Anaheim, and he had settled with his family there. Indeed, he and his family lived in a stunning Tustin Ranch home worth around $3 million, according to the LA Times:

I mention it because he sold that beautiful house when he signed with the Colorado Avalanche. He and his family live in Sorel, Quebec, during the offseason. (I don’t know what kind of house he bought here in Colorado. Unfortunately, thanks to rising real estate prices, $3 million doesn’t buy as much as it used to.)

I questioned whether the aging Beauchemin would make an adequate partner for Johnson when we first acquired him. However, the two seemed to get along like a house on fire. Head coach Patrick Roy started pairing them already in training camp, and I noticed their chemistry came together pretty quickly.

The Colorado Avalanche defense takes a lot of heat, but those two ate up minutes on the team against the top lines in the NHL. What’s more, Beauchemin helped Johnson in the leadership category. If you watch Beauchemin even in practice or warmups, he’s a really capable guy.

Funnily enough, his no-nonsense attitude annoyed me at first. He refused to spout the party line of moral victories in the beginning. However, once I understood he was displaying a Stanley Cup attitude — nothing but a win is success — I started to really appreciate his leadership capabilities. In fact, I just laughed when he yapped at EJ during a game for not being in the right position — Beauchemin is a take-no-prisoners kind of man, and that’s excellent for the Colorado Avalanche.

Related Story: Beauchemin's Player Grade

Future with the Colorado Avalanche

Francois Beauchemin has two years left on his contract with the Colorado Avalanche, and there’s no reason to think he won’t play the contract out. After that, well… he’ll be 38 years old. Never mind Hollywood, Frankie might be going into retirement. (Tell me you got that reference.)

That said, Beauchemin has integrated very well with the team already. I’m sure he’ll continue to be a valuable member of the blueline.

In fact, I could see the Avalanche shuffling around the captaincy structure next year. In the past they’ve sometimes had different alternates for the road vs home games. I’d be happy to see Beauchemin wearing an A.

On the flip side, I could also see Francois Beauchemin’s role becoming more about leadership and mentorship. He led the team in ice time with an average of 25:07. That can’t be sustained for a player in the waning years of his career.

Erik Johnson needs a new defensive partner. Beauchemin did an excellent job of teaching him what a first-pairing D should look like, but it’s time for Johnson to stride into his role without an older “mentor” player by his side.

Beauchemin would be great as a mentor for Tyson Barrie — someone’s got to get that rascal in check when it comes to roving at the wrong time. Francois will probably eventually end up in the bottom pairing. However, the Colorado Avalanche’s defensive core is young, so they can all benefit from Beauchemin’s leadership.

Next: How Barrie Can Improve to Help the Avs

Francois Beauchemin could have been just a rental player. However, he displayed an all-in mentality when he signed with the Colorado Avalanche. He has already made a very positive mark on the team — I’m confident he’ll continue to do so, and that the Avs’ defense will be the better for it.