Perhaps one of the lesser-discussed parts of the trade deadline was the inclusion of Matt Beleskey in the Rick Nash deal. They retain $1.9 million of Beleskey’s contract this year, next, and the year after that, in order to make the trade work cap-wise. As Beleskey was buried in the AHL, many felt he was either done with the Bruins, or getting ready for a return to the Bruins lineup after getting his feet back under him playing in the minors.
As the Rangers are in a rebuild, hopefully the organization will call him up to be a veteran presence, and leader, for a young group of players learning on the job. As for the Bruins, they’ve been able to officially move on and learn from their mistakes.
Beleskey was a free agent acquired in the summer of 2015. Coming off a career year in Anaheim, he was a hot target on the market. In many ways, it is surprising the Bruins signed him for just a $3.8 million cap hit. Seen as one of the last few power forwards who could produce in the NHL, there surely was high demand for Beleskey.
If you remember, that was also the summer the Bruins traded away Milan Lucic. Perhaps this was a cheaper version of Lucic, and the Bruins also acquired Colin Miller and two first-rounders along with this? This seemed like a great set of moves by Don Sweeney, who had just taken over that spring.
Unfortunately for the Bruins, Beleskey wasn’t what they hoped he would be. Rather, they were fooled by puck luck. In the 2013-14 season, Beleskey shot 8.3% at 5v5. That aligns pretty well with his career average. In 2014-15, his contract year, he shot 14.5%, scoring 18 goals at 5v5 alone.
Does shooting talent exist? Yes. However, Beleskey’s shooting percentage was at an unsustainable rate, and was due to fall back to normal. In fact, it fell back down to 8.3% again in his first year in Boston. The fall of Matt Beleskey probably lies in the number of shot attempts he takes which went from 20.7 per 60 minutes in 2014-15 to about 15 in his last 63 games in Boston.
So what do we learn?
Don’t chase unsustainable shooting percentages. No one could have seen this big of a fallout in Beleskey. I actually doubt he is as bad as he is made out to be. If Beleskey would have taken a more fair offer, the Bruins could have saved themselves a lot of money. Assuming the Bruins had to give up more for Nash because of the Beleskey contract, Spooner or Lindgren could still be with the Bruins.
Everyone makes mistakes. Being an NHL GM is a complicated job, and in 2015, many felt this was a good move. At this point, the only thing the Bruins can do is pay the rest they owe on the contract, and be cautious in the future.