Now that the ink has dried on Matt Beleskey’s new contract with the Boston Bruins, 5-years at $3.8 million per season, Boston fans are wanting to know a little more about his game. Who is Matt Beleskey?
The nice thing that traditional any long time Boston Bruins fans can enjoy is that Matt Beleskey plays Bruins style hockey they are accustomed to. He’s tough and can really be physical without being just another one-dimensional grinder. A forward who won’t shy away when things get tough is something the fans will eat up. Also, he possesses the much needed speed for the “new” NHL, and Beleskey will combine that with his ability to score. His 22 regular season goals last year were definitely newsworthy but the fact that he also put up 8 goals in 16 playoff games, helping the Anaheim Ducks reach Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals, is what really stands out. His attitude is also right. He was quoted on the Bruins official Twitter feed today saying, “I don’t think I’m here to fill anyone’s spot. I’m here to be Matt Beleskey and play my game, and that’s what I’m going to do.”
The concern fans have is that Beleskey’s 22 goals last season were a fluke. He only broke the double-digit barrier in the regular season (11 goals) once before and that was back 2009-2010. This past year he had ample powerplay time and logged heavy minutes on the Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry line, two of the NHL’s best players. He also enjoyed time with Ryan Kesler. Thus, going into free agency he produced a perfectly timed “career year”. Many are also concerned with his durability as he has a history of not getting close to playing a full regular season.
There probably is some truth to playing alongside top quality players as a way to rapidly accelerate point totals. However, take a look at a dream duo like Alexander Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom in Washington. Arguably the best goal scorer and best assist man in the NHL playing side-by-side. They have had a revolving door of wingers looking to capitalize on playing with them and no one ever truly materialized. Which is why the Capitals signed Justin Williams and traded for T.J. Oshie last week. Playing alongside studs doesn’t guarantee you’re going to light it up. Beleskey simply proved when given the chance he stepped up and belonged.
Beleskey should fit in with the Boston Bruins game nicely. People can’t expect him to be a true sniper that’s going to net 30 goals. But hitting the 20 goal mark this season will be key to not being lumped in that group of Bruins signings that scored 20 then disappeared; ie: Kelly, Smith. The difference however is Beleskey brings a game that is far more engaged, active, and built for those tough scoring areas than the others who’ve fizzled out. If he keeps his physical game and skating game going he’s known for with centers like Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci feeding him the biscuit he should find plenty of pockets to keep potting goals.