(BostonGlobe.com) – “It (vs. San Jose) was the third time this season that Beleskey (2-5—7 and minus-10 in 33 games) has been a healthy scratch. He missed six weeks with a knee injury, returned to action Jan. 20, but was pulled by Cassidy Feb. 11 after delivering only 0-2—2 in eight games. With the NHL’s March 1 trade deadline fast approaching, the 28-year-old Beleskey and his $3.8 million cap hit would be a prime for a swap. Arizona could make for a prime partner in a Beleskey swap. The Coyotes likely will move Radim Vrbata, the 35-year-old Czech winger, who is on an expiring contract (with a $3.25 million cap hit).” – Kevin Paul Dupont
Let me start by saying that trade chatter is like gossipy soap operas for dudes. The what if’s and “he said, but I heard” is what sports talk radio dreams are made of. But the hypothetical’s that freely flow through Twitter and beyond rarely come true or do much good. Like talking about what you’d do with your Powerball winnings, I try to avoid getting involved in the fantasy GM discussions no matter how fun they can be.
That being said, regardless of any trade talk one has to at least wonder what’s going on with Matt Beleskey this year. Is the injury he suffered hampering him? Is it just a slump? He’s currently having an extremely forgettable season that’s giving me déjà vu, as if he’s Martin LaPointe 2.0 with a regrettable contract from years past.
Would Arizona, as Kevin Paul Dupont suggests, make sense as a trade partner? Sure. The Coyotes have shown they’re willing to take on bloated or expiring big contracts to help their team hit the salary cap floor (ie: Datsyuk, Bolland). Radim Vrbata would make for a logical swap for cap and depth reasons. And Arizona could use a high energy forward who adds toughness and experience to a young team. But I’m not holding my breath that anything happens, or that Beleskey, who has a limited no-trade clause in his contract, is even dealt by the trade deadline.
It’s unfortunate that Beleskey has been in a recent healthy scratch state. Any objective Bruins fan will tell you they’ve loved the effort he brings every night. He’s a likable guy who really lays it on the line every single shift. Even last year when the Bruins seemed to quit when times got tough Beleskey was always balls to the wall. There’s just no statistical payoff to show for his efforts. Finishing checks, skating hard, and simply looking like “a Bruin” isn’t enough when you’re owed $3.8 million per season through 2019-2020.
If Beleskey really is in play in the trade market then he needs to be in play on the ice. Teams need to see what he can do now and the Bruins need to put him on display. Bruce Cassidy’s up-tempo offensive tweaks have seemed to make everyone elevate their game and Beleskey will get an opportunity to reap that benefit tonight against his former Ducks team as he returns to the ice. I do like the idea of injecting a fresh legged hungry player into the lineup amidst a run like one the Bruins are on. Let’s hope it pays off for him and the team.
Beleskey has a week until the trade deadline to prove he’s turning it around. And whether there’s truth to any chatter around his name or not the Bruins brass should always be open minded to changes amongst their depth guys. Especially the ones recently parked in the press box that require tons of ink on their paychecks due for years to come.
Follow us on Twitter @BostonPucks and let’s talk hockey.