The New York Rangers need to see what they have in trade deadline acquisition Matt Beleskey. He should find himself playing against NHL competition before season’s end.
Lost in the shuffle of the New York Rangers busy trade deadline is forward Matt Beleskey. He was acquired as part of the Bruins’ package in exchange for Rick Nash. Now, Beleskey’s services are being utilized at the minor league level with the Hartford Wolfpack.
However, the Rangers are currently in the middle of a rebuild. As a result, all options should be considered, and every player evaluated for the future. Despite his veteran stature, Beleskey should find himself in games at the NHL level before season’s end.
Despite a challenging two-season stretch with Boston, Beleskey has shown that he can be a quality contributor at the NHL level. As recently as the 2015-16 season, the power forward recorded 37 points, including 15 goals. That season, he averaged a career-high 15:51 of average ice time.
Prior to his arrival in Boston, Beleskey had a reputation as a tough bottom-six forward. He proved capable of contributing with his physicality as well as the occasional offensive production. During a six-season stretch to start his career with Anaheim, Beleskey averaged just over 12:30 minutes per game.
Further strengthening Beleskey’s NHL resume is his experience in postseason hockey. Playing on perennial playoff teams, the left-winger has amassed 37 career playoff games. During the Ducks’ 14-15 postseason run, Beleskey chipped in admirably with nine points and eight goals in 16 games.
In the event that Beleskey proves capable of handling NHL competition, Rangers’ management could use his resurgence to their advantage. With the Rangers looking to getting younger and faster, it is unlikely that Beleskey becomes any sort of long-term option.
Part of the rebuild includes compiling as many future draft-picks as possible. On the day of the draft, it is common for teams to be aggressive in acquiring what they feel is a need for their hockey club. It’s reasonable to believe that some team finds value in having a player with Beleskey’s qualities.
At this point, there would be no price too small for the Rangers to receive in exchange for a throw-in like Matt Beleskey. Any offer including draft picks is an opportunity to continue building for the future.
Embracing the tank
Whether or not Beleskey is a legitimate option at the NHL level is really the least important part of this dilemma. In the event that he remains a tire fire disaster, he still provides a warm body to fill roster space during a time where losses may be more valuable than wins.
As it stands, players like Cody McLeod and Peter Holland are already occupying spots in the lineup. Although the arrival of Beleskey would ultimately mean less ice-time for younger options, there is very little difference in having Paul Carey play 10 minutes a night in his place.
One way or the other, New York’s coaching staff and management must make an effort to see what they have in Matt Beleskey. If he proves capable, the Rangers potentially have an affordable bottom-six option for the next two seasons. If not, he can be buried in the AHL at an even lesser penalty against the cap.
GM Jeff Gorton has been particularly savvy in his decision-making over the last few months. It would be very surprising to see him pass over yet another opportunity. Having Matt Beleskey on the roster before the end of the season makes too much sense, whether we all like it or not.