Matt Beleskey’s days in the Bruins organization may continue in Providence once he clears waivers, but there’s no question that GM Don Sweeney and company didn’t get what they paid for when they signed the former Anaheim Duck on July 1, 2015.
Hitting the open market following a career year (22 goals, 10 assists in 65 games) in 2014-15 during the Ducks’ run to the Western Conference finals, Beleskey got a nice payday in Boston when he signed a 5-year contract worth $3.8 million per year. At the time, it was seen as a risky, but potentially wise investment for Sweeney just months into his tenure.
The initial return wasn’t that bad for the Bruins as Beleskey topped his 32 points from the previous year with 37 (15 goals, 22 assists) in 80 games in 2015-16. At the time, Beleskey’s versatility made him a good fit for a Black and Gold team in transition.
The last two years, however, have been anything but productive for Beleskey.
Though Beleskey has held his head high and has been a solid veteran presence in the locker room, the injuries, frequent healthy scratches and a 24-game scoreless drought since March forced the Bruins hand. The combination of the Bruins’ youth movement and a healthier lineup over the past few weeks only escalated the rumors of Beleskey being placed on waivers – or potentially being put on the trade block.
“Matt was placed on waivers with the hope that he will have the opportunity to go to Providence, play in all situations, get his confidence and game back to the level he brought in his first year with the Bruins,” Sweeney said in an official statement released by the Bruins. “Matt has been nothing but an exemplary teammate and pro during the time that he has not been in the lineup but we felt playing would be more beneficial to Matt than practicing, especially with the limited practice time available with regards to our schedule.”
The waiver news came to fruition less than 24 hours after the Bruins earned a character win over the Red Wings. Beleskey himself has shown plenty of character during his first two-plus years in Boston, now he needs to find his confidence.
The Bruins are hoping that Beleskey finds his game and develops confidence in Providence. Questionable contract aside, those two traits are all that Bruce Cassidy, the coaching staff and Bruins management can ask for in the short-term.
“We discussed that and I think that’s the best path for him right now. We’ve got guys ahead of him in the lineup and the team is winning…” head coach Bruce Cassidy said prior to Thursday’s contest with the Capitals.
“We just feel as a group that the best way he can help the Boston Bruins is to play and to try to find his game where it’s productive at our level, and this is the first step at that.”