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Sabres acquire Nathan Beaulieu from Montreal

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The Sabres sent Montreal a third-round pick

NHL: Montreal Canadiens at Dallas Stars Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The Sabres made the first move on the day of the expansion draft roster freeze, trading a third-round pick (68th overall) to the Montreal Canadiens for defenseman Nathan Beaulieu. The move is Jason Botterill’s first as Sabres general manager.

Beaulieu, 24, has played in parts of five seasons for the Canadiens. Last season he set a career high for games played, scoring four goals and 24 assists in 74 games. He’s a restricted free agent.

A lefty defenseman, Beaulieu was a first-round pick in the 2011 draft. He started the season on the Canadiens first pair, but moved down as the year went along.

I’m not going to tell you how to feel about this trade, but all I know is every Montreal fan I’ve seen on Twitter or comment on Eyes on the Prize seems very irritated by this move. That should be a good sign.

Beaulieu needs to be protected in the expansion draft, meaning a Sabres defenseman will likely be pushed off the protected list because of the move. With Ristolainen as a certainty to be protected, that leaves one spot for Jake McCabe, Josh Gorges and Zach Bogosian. I think we all know which one of those three the Sabres will protect.

The roster freeze goes into effect today at 3 p.m.