There’s no argument, the biggest acquisition GM Don Sweeney has made thus far in his first offseason is winger Matt Beleskey. The former Anaheim Duck was signed to a four year contract worth $3.8mil / per. Coming off of a 22 goal performance (Beleksey’s first of 20 or more) in the 2014-2015 season the 27 year old was widely considered among the top forwards in this year’s free agent class.
Playing in Anaheim, many Bruins fans may not yet have seen Beleskey on a regular basis - so what can the 6 foot, 204 pounder bring to the Boston lineup? Let’s dive into the details of Matt Beleskey’s game.
One of the biggest knocks on no. 39 during free agency was: “sure, he scored 22 goals, but he was playing with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry.” It’s true, Getzlaf and Perry are an all-world offensive duo. However, B’s fans should see Beleskey’s ability to play with elite talent as a good thing, not a knock.
Presumably, Beleskey will get a long look at playing alongside center David Krejci. Krejci is a world class distributor of the puck with exceptional vision, and Beleskey’s hockey iQ in the offensive zone should match up well. When reviewing Beleskey’s goals this past season, the phrase “right place, right time” jumps to mind - he’s an opportunist who understands how to read the play and put himself in the best possible position to score. These are aspects of his game Bruins fans should find refreshing, as the roster isn’t exactly teeming with instinctive finishers.
Once in position, Beleskey has good, albeit not quite elite, hands and an efficient release of the puck. Watching the highlight reel it becomes clear that Beleskey’s greatest shooting attribute is his accuracy. More than a few goals from last season were examples of an impressive ability to find the open space between the pipes.
Fans of the Black & Gold should love this as well: Beleskey, for all intensive purposes, always finishes when he should. A seemingly obvious skill for a top six forward, sure. But, as any Bruins fan will attest - the past few years have been chalk full of “HOW did he miss that” moments and high-glass wristers. All of which have caused undue stress on the Boston faithful, so rest assured: if there’s a goal to be scored and Beleskey has a look, it’s going in.
A perfect example: Beleksey’s game 5 overtime winner in this year’s Western Conference Final vs. Chicago.
Not to be overlooked either is Beleskey’s ability to help a lack luster Bruins powerplay. All the skills highlighted above: hockey iQ, opportunism, good hands and an ability to finish goal scorers goals lend one to think that the winger will provide a spark on the Boston man advantage.
The strengths of Beleskey’s game land him firmly within the top six of Boston’s forward group. And with Krejci creating opportunities there’s no reason his goal scoring production from last year cannot be duplicated or improved upon. In Beleskey, Bruins fans have a player with a natural ability to capitalize on scoring chances. A welcome site within a lineup in need of point production.