Matt Beleskey and What He Can Bring to the Rangers Next Season
It was July 1st, 2015. Anaheim Ducks forward Matt Beleskey was coming off of a season where he set career highs in both goals (22), and points (32). It was known that the Anaheim Ducks did not want to commit to Beleskey long-term, which in hindsight, was probably a good idea, and many teams were ready to make offers. Matt Beleskey was set to receive a massive payday, and he did when the Boston Bruins inked him to a five-year, $19 million contract. Many thought that the Bruins got a bargain, as it was predicted that Beleskey would receive upwards of $5 million per season, but salary cap space comes at a price; term.
In the 2015-2016 season, Matt Beleskey played 80 games with the Bruins where he tallied 15 goals and 37 points. These numbers weren’t bad at the time considering they were new career highs for Beleskey. Keep in mind, however, that for the majority of the season, Beleskey played alongside David Krejci and David Pastrnak, not to mention all the power-play time he was given.
Bruins fans were optimistic about Beleskey heading into the 2016-2017 campaign and they had reason to be. Beleskey had improved upon his game in the two prior seasons, and it only made sense that he would continue to do so.
Beleskey did not have a good start to the 2016-2017 season. He went pointless in his first ten games, and could not build chemistry with his new linemates Austin Czarnik and Jimmy Hayes. Then in December, Beleskey sustained a knee injury which sidelined him for the next month and a half. When Beleskey returned to the lineup, he was only able to post three points in the final 25 games of the season.
The 2017-2018 season was not any better for Beleskey. In fourteen games, Beleskey could not tally a single point, and on December 14, Beleskey was put on waivers. Beleskey cleared waivers and was assigned to the Providence Bruins, the Bruins’ AHL affiliate. Beleskey would remain a member of the Providence Bruins until February 25, when he was sent to the Rangers as part of the Rick Nash trade.
When the Bruins signed Matt Beleskey, there were mixed reactions from Bruins fans. Some were happy that the team acquired one of the biggest free-agents on the market and thought that Beleskey could succeed with the team. Others thought that a $19 million contract along with a five-year term was too much for a player like Beleskey. But players like Beleskey are rare. Fourth-line physical presence players are ubiquitous in the NHL, or at least, they used to be. Teams are now choosing scoring depth over players that may be physical, but are not able to contribute offensively. However, physicality is still a very valuable attribute in the NHL. Matt Beleskey has the potential to provide physicality and scoring depth. That is ultimately what drew the Bruins, and many other teams, to him.
Matt Beleskey was in need of a clean slate, and he found one with the Rangers. Under the right conditions, he may be able to succeed with the team. But what role would Beleskey be given, and how would he fit with the team?
Protect the Kids!
With the Rangers’ youth movement in full swing, you can expect to see some new, and younger faces this upcoming season. Matt Beleskey would be able to use his six-foot, 203-pound body to protect some of the Rangers young guns.
Provide Scoring Depth
If Matt Beleskey is able to find his offensive game, he could be a valuable asset in David Quinn’s bottom-six. Every team needs scoring depth, and if Beleskey could provide it, that would be great.
Matt Beleskey only has nine power-play goals throughout his career, but as a screen on maybe say, the second power-play unit, he can be effective.
Matt Beleskey has now spent seven years total in the NHL. His experience can prove valuable to some of the younger players on the team.
This is most likely Matt Beleskey’s last chance to prove himself in the NHL. If Beleskey is able to get back on track and once again prove himself as both an offensive and physical threat in the league, he can be a great player for the Rangers.