The time has come: Boston Bruins should waive Matt Beleskey

BOSTON, MA - NOVEMBER 6: Ryan Suter /

At some point, someone has to stand up and say enough is enough.  How long is it going to take before someone in the Boston Bruins organization says that Matt Beleskey’s time in Boston is done?

It’s time for the Boston Bruins to admit something:  the Matt Beleskey experiment is a failure.  The power forward is in his third year in a Bruins jersey, and each year is getting progressively worse.  There is simply no reason for him to still be on the Bruins NHL roster.

On July 1, 2015, Beleskey signed a 5 year, $19 million ($3.8 million AAV) contract with the Bruins as an unrestricted free agent.  His contract features a no-movement clause for the ’15-’16 season, and a modified no-movement clause for the ’16-’17 season through the ’18-’19 season.  He is under contract until ’19-’20.

The season before signing in Boston, Beleskey had his first 20 goal season of his career for the Anaheim Ducks (22-10–32).  His 22 goals came in only 65 games and on 145 shots, a 15.2% shooting percentage.  Extrapolated out for a full 82 game season, he had a 28 goal, 13 assist, 41 point season.  Definitely a career year for Beleskey, which he turned into a big payday.

Boston Bruins

His first season in Boston wasn’t exactly terrible.  Beleskey played in 80 games for the Bruins, netting 15 goals, 22 assists, a +6 rating, and 260 hits.  An overall respectable season for a 3rd line winger in the NHL.  However, Beleskey wasn’t initially brought into the fold to be a third line winger.  He was supposed to be a top-6 forward to replace Milan Lucic.  And worse, he was getting paid like a top-6 winger.

Then comes last season.  Beleskey’s ’16-’17 campaign was plagued by injuries, including a knee injury in December that cost him six weeks.  By the end of the year, he had only played 49 games, with 3 goals, 5 assists, a -10 rating, and only 98 hits.  Those aren’t 3rd or even 4th line NHL numbers.  Take an average AHL player and have him play 49 games in the NHL, he’ll record those stats, or better.

There was cautious optimism going into this season that Beleskey was going to put last season behind him.  He looked like a different player in the preseason according to some.  He appeared ready to live up to the potential GM Don Sweeney saw in him back in 2015.  But through 9 games played, Beleskey has 0 goals, 0 assists, a -3 rating, and only 13 shots on goal.  He’s also watched 4 games from the press box as a healthy scratch.

$3.8 million down the drain

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Beleskey is by far the biggest cap drain on the Boston Bruins roster.  His $3.8 million represents 5% of the Bruins overall salary cap.  That number may seem small, but you have to compare it to the production the team gets from the player.  Right now, that’s none.

He is the 9th highest paid player on the team, yet has spent nearly 1/4 of the team’s games in a suit eating popcorn in the press box.  You mean to tell me that using the eye-test alone, Beleskey should be making more this season than Kevan Miller ($2.5 million) or Tim Schaller ($775k)?

Using’s helpful Contract Comparison tool, let’s look at other NHL players that have contracts similar to Beleskey’s $3.8 million AAV deal.  Then we can see what that amount of money or close to it could buy a team in terms of on-ice production.

Darren Helm, Detroit Red Wings, 89.9% match

  • 5 year, $19.25 million deal signed July 1, 2016, $3.85 million AAV
  • 2016-2017 stats:  50 games, 8 goals, 9 assists, -6 rating, 98 SOG
  • 2017-2018 stats:  16 games, 3 goals, 4 assists, +4 rating, 28 SOG

Artem Anisimov, Chicago Blackhawks, 84.3% match

  • 5 year, $22.75 million deal signed July 1, 2015, $4.55 million AAV
  • 2016-2017 stats:  64 games, 22 goals, 23 assists, +8 rating, 121 SOG
  • 2017-2018 stats:  15 games, 5 goals, 2 assists, +7 rating, 27 SOG

Tyler Bozak, Toronto Maple Leafs, 84.1% match

  • 5 year, $21 million deal signed July 5, 2013, $4.2 million AAV
  • 2016-2017 stats:  78 games, 18 goals, 37 assists, -1 rating, 145 SOG
  • 2017-2018 stats:  16 games, 4 goals, 4 assists, -7 rating, 26 SOG

Mats Zuccarello, New York Rangers, 78.3% match

  • 4 years, $18 million deal signed March 2, 2015, $4.5 million AAV
  • 2016-2017 stats:  80 games, 15 goals, 44 assists, +15 rating, 189 SOG
  • 2017-2018 stats:  16 games, 3 goals, 8 assists, -9 rating, 27 SOG

As you can clearly see, for close to the same amount the Bruins are paying Beleskey, these four teams are getting actual production.  They’ll all on pace for 40+ point seasons.  And these are just four examples; there are many more players out that there prove this point.

As mentioned previously, Bruins players like Tim Schaller, Riley Nash, and the like are outperforming Beleskey on the ice, while making a fraction of his salary.  Heck, the only reason he’s playing right now is because the team is decimated by injuries.

What’s the worst that could happen?

If the Bruins decided to put Beleskey on waivers, they could end this whole dumpster fire of a tenure.  Some team desperate for a veteran body for a lineup could decide he’s worth the $3.8 million bath for the next two seasons.  If claimed by one of the NHL’s other 30 teams, he and his lack of production would be their problem, and his contract comes off the books.

If no one claims him, the Bruins would then have 30 days (or 10 games played by Beleskey) to send him down to Providence.  That would give the organization some wiggle room, in case in the unlikeliest of scenarios, that Beleskey turns his game around during that time.  If there’s no claim made and Beleskey still stinks, the team can ship him down I-95 to Providence, freeing up cap space in Boston.  This would allow flexibility for perhaps a mid-season move.

Who knows?  It wouldn’t have to be permanent.  Perhaps a stint in Providence where he’d likely play more minutes will get his confidence up.  Maybe playing with some young studs on a good AHL team and scoring some points will inspire him to regain NHL form.  Less likely things have happened in the NHL.

Or, perhaps Matt Beleskey is a total bust.  Maybe he will go down as one of the Bruins biggest disappointments in terms of free agency signings in team history.  It could be that he is the most overpaid NHL (but really AHL) player around.  That could very well be the case, and in my opinion, is the more likely scenario.

Next: Bruins headed back to Winter Classic

As a fan, I am at my wits’ end waiting for things to turn around with Beleskey.  In today’s NHL with the salary cap and the changing game, you simply cannot pay a 3rd/4th line forward $3.8 million per year, and have him sit out 1/4 of the games as a scratch.  Mark my words:  Matt Beleskey will go down as Don Sweeney’s worst move as general manager in Boston.  It’s time to admit the mistake, and mitigate the damages.