Colorado Avalanche and the Francois Beauchemin Problem

Feb 20, 2016; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Colorado Avalanche defensemen Francois Beauchemin (32) battles in front of the Colorado Avalanche net against the Edmonton Oilers at Rexall Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 20, 2016; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Colorado Avalanche defensemen Francois Beauchemin (32) battles in front of the Colorado Avalanche net against the Edmonton Oilers at Rexall Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports /

The Colorado Avalanche have a problem, namely defenseman Francois Beauchemin.

Defenseman Francois Beauchemin is a problem for the Colorado Avalanche. His bad play and lack of leadership have deteriorated an already poor blueline. What’s more, he’s expensive.

What can the Colorado Avalanche do about this problem?

Francois Beauchemin Playing Badly

Where to start with how Beauchemin is a problem for the Avalanche? First of all, he’s playing badly. We could start small, with the fact that he’s at a -3 on the plus/minus ratio.

We could point out that he has an ugly turnover ratio — -21, meaning he’s turned the puck over 21 more times than he’s taken it away.

He’s only got two goals — despite being at least a two-way defenseman — in 51 games. But then, he’s shooting at just 2.6% accuracy.

If you’d like to start dipping your toe into fancy stats, let’s look at the fact that Beauchemin is at 42.9% in Corsi For — he’d have to be at 50% to be even. Only Fedor Tyutin is lower for regular Colorado Avalanche defenders, and Toots is bad.

Beauchemin’s relative Corsi is -7.3. He’d have to be at 0 to be a neutral force on the ice. Again, only old Toots is worse.

If you’d like to get a little fancier, we could look at the Corsi differential against tough opponents, defined as play against the NHL’s top 30 centers. Beauchemin gets an average 4.3 minutes per game against top opponents. His Corsi differential is the worst among all Avalanche players — -18.6. Again, he’d have to be at 0 to be a neutral force.

So, Francois Beauchemin is playing badly. He’s not playing badly because the Avs have bad defense. Beauch is one of the leaders on average ice time per game. The Colorado Avalanche have bad defense partially because Francois Beauchemin is playing badly.

Francois Beauchemin Leadership

Last year I was highly impressed with Francois Beauchemin’s leadership. I saw him taking the Colorado Avalanche’s best defenseman, Erik Johnson, under his wing. I was so impressed I wrote a post praising Beauch:

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Indeed, Beauchemin’s leadership quality was so impressive, he was made an alternate captain this season. I imagine the rationale was that he’d be the veteran leader of the blueline.

That Francois has been largely missing for a while now. I’m not entirely certain why. It could be because Beauchemin had a tough start to his season. He was up and down, as were the Avalanche in general.

In any case, he seems to have given up. Game after game we watch as he stands in front of the Colorado goal and watches the puck go in. Last year’s team leader in blocked shots — and one of the NHL’s leaders — is barely blocking two shots per game.

It could be the coach doesn’t have his ear anymore. Last season I bristled a little bit because Beauchemin didn’t automatically toe the line with Patrick Roy’s even keel attitude. He eventually came around and became the leader I praised earlier.

It appears Jared Bednar doesn’t have that power. If Beauchemin was willing to buck a Hall of Famer’s system, well, an AHL coach has no chance. Even if that’s not the case, Francois does seem to be spending time acting as if he doesn’t want to skate in burgundy and blue anymore.

Which brings us to the next part of the problem the Colorado Avalanche have in dealing with Francois Beauchemin.

Francois Beauchemin Contract

Francois Beauchemin’s contract has made the Colorado Avalanche stuck with the aging defenseman. Beauch’s 36 years in this world are second only to Jarome Iginla’s 39 for the team.

Those years mean that Beauchemin got a 35+ No Move Clause contract. He also carries a cap hit of $4.5 million. It’s good for one more season past this one.

That NMC means the Avalanche have to protect Beauchemin in the expansion draft. They also have to protect their other defensemen of note — Erik Johnson, Tyson Barrie and Nikita Zadorov. That means they have to take the eight skaters option instead of seven forwards and three defenseman option.

The money, the NMC and the protection status in the expansion draft are more aspects of the Francois Beauchemin problem.

Solving the Francois Beauchemin Problem

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I’m ragging on Francois Beauchemin, and I feel bad about that. I really liked the guy. However, his underperforming this year has cost the Colorado Avalanche.

So, what can the team do about their Beauch problem?

On the face of it, it looks like the Avs can do very little. He’s got that NMC.

However, Beauchemin’s seeming apathy tells be there may already be forces at work. He may be more than happy to waive the No Move Clause to get away from a team he no longer enjoys playing for.

I think it’s time for Jared Bednar and the Avs management to push him a little more. Francois is not helping the team. Time to take away his ice time. There is no reason on earth Bednar couldn’t bench him. As the stats show, the team is actually worse when Beauchemin is on the ice.

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From there, it’s a matter of GM Joe Sakic finding a team willing to take on Beauchemin’s contract. That won’t be easy. Sakic may have to sweeten the pot by throwing in a draft pick or having the team retain some salary.

That’s not ideal. However, as much as I like Francois Beauchemin personally, he’s become an albatross around the Colorado Avalanche’s neck. It’s time for him to go.

By Nadia Archuleta for Mile High Sticking