With the Boston Bruins finally getting their entire 2017-18 roster off the injured list and onto the ice recently, the team needed to make a move to free up room for several returning bodies.
The writing had been on the wall for a while now that Matt Beleskey would likely be the odd man out in Boston, as the 29-year-old has been a HUGE disappointment with the Bruins during his last two seasons.
Beleskey signed a five-year, $19 million contract with Boston prior to the 2015-16 season, and notched 15 goals and added 22 assists in 80 games in his first year with the B’s. Last season, he had just eight points with a -10 rating in 49 games, and this season he failed to tally a point in 14 games with a -8 rating before being relegated to the rafters during the entire month of December.
There is no question that the signing has been a huge failure so far, and the fact that Beleskey was able to pass through waivers last week before being assigned to Providence is a big indication that other teams are not willing to take a flyer on the forward, who clearly cashed in after a 22-goal season in 2014-15.
But the fact that the Bruins not only cut bait with Beleskey, but have developed other options that made him expendable, is a great sign of the present and future for this organization.
It wouldn’t have been a huge surprise if Beleskey would have been a regular in the lineup to this day if the Bruins still had Claude Julien behind the bench. Julien loved to stick with his veteran players (who can forget his love affair with Chris Kelly?), and he clearly preferred the known as opposed to the unknown. Although he didn’t score this season, Beleskey would still routinely throw his body around and played a more physical style, which suited Julien’s prodding offense that often had little or no flow.
Obviously, the Bruins have embraced the speed and skill that is needed to succeed in the current state of the NHL, and Beleskey just doesn’t fit that mold. Younger players like Jake DeBrusk and Danton Heinen have earned their spots on this roster over Beleskey by flashing speed and skill on both ends of the ice on a consistent basis, along with the offensive firepower that the B’s desperately needed. With Noel Acciari healthy, the fourth line has its physical presence, which also pushed Beleskey out. Rookie Anders Bjork is waiting in the wings for another chance, while the P-Bruins are full of young prospects chomping at the bit to make their names at the NHL level. There just isn’t any room right now on this team for someone that doesn’t score and doesn’t bring much else to the table.
That last statement is a great sign for the future in Boston. The culture has clearly changed with Bruce Cassidy at the helm. If you don’t perform, you’ll likely get passed up by the multitude of young guns that are either already in Boston or are waiting in the wings. Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson, Austin Czarnik, and the injured Peter Cehlarik can’t crack this roster, and there are still prospects like Zachary Senyshyn, Jesse Gabrielle, Ryan Donato, Trent Frederic, and Jack Studnicka that will all likely be making their NHL debuts in the next couple seasons.
The releasing of Beleskey could just be the start of things to come with the Boston Bruins. They are focused on the future while still trying to succeed in the present. The ever-growing list of rookies and young talent will keep making it harder and harder for veterans to stay on this roster without doing something extremely productive.
Now all Matt Beleskey can do is try to add his name to the list of potential call-ups in Providence.
We may never see him back in Boston, but that may be a great sign of things to come.
Written by: Adam Belue (@albinomamba44)