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Is it too soon to move Beleskey?

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Last season’s prized signing has had his share of struggles. But should the Bruins look to deal him?

Chicago Blackhawks v Boston Bruins Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

It’s been a rough season for Matt Beleskey.

Just a year removed from a quietly strong first season as a Bruin (37 points, the most of his career), Beleskey has struggled from the get-go.

It took him 11 games to record his first point, and 13 to score his first goal. He hasn’t recorded points in consecutive games at all this season.

He missed significant time due to a lower-body injury suffered late in the year, and hasn’t scored a goal since returning from that injury.

Beleskey has also seen himself taken off the ice since Claude Julien was fired, watching the game from the press box three times since Bruce Cassidy took the reins.

All of the struggles, combined with a $4 million cap hit, have led to countless calls for Beleskey to be shown the door.

And when you see the kind of hauls teams are getting for guys like Martin Hanzal and Brian Boyle, it’s not hard to see why.

Those deals are different in that Beleskey has term remaining, but he’s also a better player than Boyle and is arguably as good as Hanzal (when he’s playing at his best).

However, moving Beleskey serves a number of purposes:

  • It gets some money off the books, which is important with David Pastrnak needing a new deal
  • It creates some space for young players to step in and get some ice time
  • It brings some assets back to the Bruins, likely in the form of mid-round draft picks or mid-tier prospects

If Beleskey is moved, the Bruins would be able to elevate some youngsters to take his place next season.

Peter Cehlarik, who seems to have earned himself a roster spot, would be assured of a more regular NHL role. Anton Blidh could get some grinder minutes.

Jake DeBrusk, poised to make the jump next season, would most likely be the biggest beneficiary of a Beleskey deal.

Further down the line is a guy like Jesse Gabrielle, who continues to rack up points in juniors.

OK, so yeah, there are reasons to end Beleskey’s time in black and gold before it’s half over.

But it also might be too soon to bail on the guy.

Beleskey still doesn’t look right since coming back from his lower-body injury, and chances are whatever is ailing him is part of the reason for that drop-off in play.

He’s also a victim of the “numbers bug” that was partially responsible for Julien’s demise.

To wit: Beleskey is shooting 3.3% on the season. 3.3%!!!!!! His career average is just south of 10%.

If Beleskey was shooting even just a little below his normal rate, he’d be at double digits in goals, easing a lot of the pressure on him.

Of course, “ifs” don’t really matter in the real world, but it’s an illustration of how unlucky his season has been thus far.

Beleskey’s PDO (on-ice sh% + on-ice sv%, occasionally used as a measure of “puck luck”) is far and away the worst on the team at 92.8. PDO tends to rise or regress toward 100, meaning Beleskey is far below normal.

In fact, Beleskey’s PDO is the third-worst in the league among forwards with 200+ TOI.

That’s bad.

Trading Beleskey now also has a few complications. He has a limited no-trade clause, allowing him to list six teams he can’t be traded to.

Because he has term, you’d have to find a team that’s not quite in full rebuild mode, but isn’t “going for it” this season. Based on the tightness of the standings league-wide, a team like that is going to be hard to find.

Finally, trading Beleskey now would likely get a “pennies on the dollar” return. You’d be selling a good player at what’s essentially his all-time low. Teams would pay the Bruins a “3.3% shooter” price instead of a “coming off of a career year” price.

Beleskey was, whether the Bruins admit it or not, signed as a semi-replacement for Milan Lucic on the wing. It hasn’t worked out that way, but that doesn’t mean Beleskey has been a disaster.

His decent (compared to what it could have been) contract makes his struggles a bit easier to swallow.

Combine a lingering injury, some bad luck and a low return, and now isn’t really the time to dump Beleskey.

If the Bruins are ready to move on from the former Duck, they’d be better served letting him play out the string, hopefully turn things around and get a better return for him at the draft.

Trading him now would be a picture perfect case of selling low.

Give the guy the rest of the season to see what he’s got, and make a more level-headed decision on him in June.