Should Boston Bruins fans worry about the lack of production from Matt Beleskey?
When the Boston Bruins hired General Manager Don Sweeney, the focus was solely on building the future through the draft. Sweeney did just that by drafting three times in the first round of the 2015 NHL Draft. Sweeney then focused on the main roster to try to get the team back to competitiveness for the 2015-16 campaign. That’s where Matt Beleskey comes along.
Matt Beleskey signed a five-year deal worth $19 million and a cap hit of $3.8 Million with a modified no-trade clause. For the contract that he got, I thought that was a friendly number for both the team and the player. The book on Beleskey is he brings a ton of grit to the table and displays an excellent work rate. Perhaps the bread and butter for the 28-year-old is that he loves to play physical. Beleskey will finish checks, crash the net, does a great job along the boards and not afraid to fight when the team is in need of a jolt of energy.
In Beleskey’s final year with the Anaheim Ducks, he put together a very solid campaign with 22 Goals, 10 Assists, 32 Points and a plus/minus plus-13 in 65 games. What impressed me the most about Beleskey is his role in the Ducks playoff run. The team came up short in a game 7 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks in the Western Conference Finals. In 16 playoff games in 2015, Beleskey notched 8 goals (3 game winning goals), one assist and nine points. Beleskey took over games with his work ethic, physicality, and knack of the heroics late in games.
In Beleksey’s first season with Boston, he saw just a small increase in his point totals from his last season in Anaheim. He went from 32 to 37 points in 15 more games played than what he played in 14-15. Beleskey’s hard work showed and paid off at times, he just did not find a lot of puck luck in his first go-around with the Bruins.
This year, however, has been a completely different story.
In 28 games played, Beleskey has a grand total of two goals, four assists, and six points. Let’s get one thing straight before I go any further. I am a fan of Beleskey and love what he brings to the table on a nightly basis. But this is clearly not what we paid $19 million for. Sure, he’s not playing with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry anymore, I get that, but he has played on lines with center-men David Krejci and Ryan Spooner on multiple occasions. Beleskey will never wow you with his scoring totals but at some point, you have to ask where is the production?
Beleskey also had an injury during this year that has enabled him to miss 22 games due to a right knee injury. He has one point in four games upon returning to the lineup. While it is fair to give some time to Beleskey to work off some rust, it’s also time to start making the impact of a near $20 million player.
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So how can Matt Beleskey get back to being an impact player? Head Coach Claude Julien has tried different combinations all season so it’s tough to build chemistry with a certain player. To me, he belongs on the line with Ryan Spooner and Riley Nash. This spot in the lineup just feels right for him. third line duties with responsibilities along the boards and protecting a young play-making center. Julien has also put him on the second power-play unit in an attempt to get the veteran some confidence.
Other than that, Beleskey needs to stay the course and win puck battles, engage physically, generate shots on net, stay emotionally in check and must keep his feet moving.
With All-Star weekend here, the Boston Bruins are clinging on to third place in the Atlantic division and don’t have much wiggle room. The Bruins can’t afford any more passengers the rest of the year. Matt Beleskey needs to play and be a reason why this team makes the postseason. The play of a bottom 6 forward could potentially make or break you especially if your team on the playoff bubble.
I would love to watch Beleskey in the postseason wearing our Black and Gold. That is the stage where he could really make a breakthrough like he did with Anaheim in 2015. But if things go south, perhaps you have to ask Mr. Beleskey to waive his no-trade clause.