I feel bad for Matt Beleskey.
A select few were concerned for his part as he came to Boston off of the year of his life out of Anaheim in 2015, specifically because he had played so well that there was fear of regression. Beleskey proved these critiques wrong in the following year, hitting another career high and having a cult of personality building around his “blue collar” work ethic, speed, willingness to shoot, and play around the net. Things really seemed to be looking up for him!
...And then this year happened.
A bad knee injury in December took him completely out of action for almost a quarter of the season, but by that point Beleskey’s offensive touch had died. Almost everything about what made him so good in 2015 was conspicuously absent this year and it was painful to watch. Beleskey’s shifts became routine, and Claude/Bruce kind of threw up their hands and silently admitted they didn’t really know what to do with him anymore, preferring to shift him throughout the lower lines, giving his ice time low danger and even lower chances of scoring. His motivation to get to the dirty areas of the ice was low, his shifts became sluggish (though that’s probably the injury), and of course...he only scored three goals in what was a little over half of the season.
That’s it. Pre and post injury. That’s his entire output where he was the primary goal-scorer in 2016. His previous benchmark was 15.
That’s not good.
And what’s the most annoying part of this entire exercise is that by possession metrics? He was doing fine. He stayed above 50%, he normally played alright even after his injury, he still battled fairly well and tried to take shots where he could, and still he couldn’t get a goal if he tried. Hell, he was replaced with Providence’s big left wing prospect for 11 games, and even if Cehlarik had trouble cashing in he still at least looked like he could feasibly score more. He went from cult favorite to replaceable and expensive, and that’s what doomed his season and a lot of fan’s patience in him.
My hope is that Matt can turn it around in the new season with a whole offseason of recovery time, but a part of me is terrified of the prospect that him being a high shot-% back with the ducks and that’s it might not be invalid after all...and the Bruins are stuck paying almost 4 million to a player that will continue to struggle to hit double digit point totals.
But maybe that’s just me being paranoid. I mean, after a season as disastrous as this one was for him, there’s nowhere to go but up, right?...Right?
Beleskey is probably the one player who fell furthest of all players in comparison to his previous grade. All things considered he did play hurt, but the subpar point total even after this combined with his cap hit makes this year a painful pill to swallow.
Games Played: 49
Playoff Point total: lol
Final CF% total: 53.5%
What do you think of Beleskey’s grade?
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