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  • Why Matt Beleskey may be enticing for Golden Knights in Expansion Draft

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    Why Matt Beleskey may be enticing for Golden Knights in Expansion Draft

    Anthony Travalgia June 20, 2017

    With the list of protected players among 30 of the 31 NHL teams released Sunday morning, Bruins fans have had their chance to dissect the list and voice their opinions on who should and should not have been protected and who they think Vegas will take during their Expansion Draft process.

    Search through Twitter, Facebook and the comments sections of Bruins-based articles and you’ll find many of those opinions or statements. Why was Ryan Spooner protected? Colin Miller not Kevan Miller should have been protected. Maybe Vegas will get crazy and take Jimmy Hayes off the Bruins hands. Those are just some of the opinions and comments one may find.

    Well, here’s another: Don’t be surprised if it’s Matt Beleskey that the Golden Knights take from the Bruins.

    Colin Miller and Adam McQuaid seemingly make the most sense for the NHL’s newest franchise, but with some of the better options available being defensemen, Beleskey could be a serious consideration for general manager George McPhee and company.

    Looking at the list of available defensemen left unprotected shows the Golden Knights have some solid options to fill out their nine defensemen minimum. Sami Vatanen, Jack Johnson, Matt Dumba, Nate Schmidt and Trevor van Riemsdyk are just a few valuable options for Vegas.

    After a career high 22 goals and eight more in a 16-game playoff run in the 2014-15 season, Beleskey joined the Bruins on a five-year deal worth $19 million. Beleskey was solid in his first year in Boston with 15 goals, 22 assists and 37 points in 80 games. His heavy play along with his willingness to get to the dirty areas and drop the gloves with no fear instantly earned respect with Bruins fans.

    Looking to build upon a good first season, Beleskey was a major disappointment in 2016-17. Sure, Beleskey was the victim of a December knee injury that caused him to miss nearly two months, but his production leading up to his injury was non-existent. The 29-year old had just two goals in 23 games prior to his injury. Beleskey scored just once after returning from his knee issue.

    As the season moved along, both head coach Claude Julien and then eventually interim head coach Bruce Cassidy lost faith in Beleskey. The power forward was a healthy scratch in three of the Bruins six playoff games against the Ottawa Senators.

    With such a down year last season, why would Vegas roll the dice with Beleskey when there are more enticing options on the Bruins roster available to them?

    Vegas may look back to the Beleskey that was a very serviceable player in Anaheim and in his first year in Boston. With what is expected to be a young inaugural squad, Beleskey can serve as a veteran leader inside the locker room.

    Sure, $3.8 million is a lot to pay a guy who had just three goals a season ago, but don’t forget, in their expansion draft process, Vegas must hit a minimum team salary of 60% of the salary cap.

    After a down year, a change of scenery may be exactly what the doctor ordered for Beleskey. If surrounded by some young, skillful talent, Beleskey can fit perfectly on a third line in Vegas if he gets back to his physicality and gets back to getting to the dirty areas. Two things that were lacking in his game at most times a season ago.

    “[This season] is not who I am. That’s not what I signed to do here. You know, this is going to be a big summer for me with sticking around here,” Beleskey said at Bruins break-up after the Ottawa Senators ended their season back in May.

    “I’m going to train here with all of the facilities and everything available to me. I think this will be a great summer here in Boston, and I’m looking forward to next season.

    The Bruins can also force the Knights’ hands a bit with an enticing trade offer. With the current trade freeze intact until Thursday, teams can only trade with Vegas during the next two days. As soon as the protection list was finalized on Sunday, general managers around the league started to ring the phones of McPhee. Offers of draft picks have been the norm, in exchange for the protection of players who are on the non-protected list.

    In less than 24 hours the Golden Knights will submit their expansion draft selections to the league with a formal announcement coming Wednesday night.

    Will it be Miller? Will it be McQuaid? Will it be Beleskey? Our questions will soon be answered.

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