New York Rangers: Matt Beleskey being sent down is a mistake
The New York Rangers waived forward Matt Beleskey on Thursday afternoon as part of the process to send him down to the Hartford Wolf Pack.
While one single roster decision can derail an entire lineup or is truly worth agonizing over. In the past several years, the New York Rangers had a series of hair pulling lineup decisions that did not make a ton of sense. The team’s former head coach, Alain Vigneault, loved playing Tanner Glass and Nick Holden over younger guys like Jimmy Vesey, Pavel Buchnevich and Tony DeAngelo.
While the decision to send Matt Beleskey down to the AHL does not hold as much weight as the ones of year’s past for a variety of reasons. The former Boston Bruin is not going to be a long-term part of the Rangers’ future. Beleskey spent pretty much the entirety of last season in the AHL because he couldn’t contribute to a contending team.
There are no long-term disadvantages to the front office keeping Beleskey down in the AHL. At this point in his NHL career at age 29, he is what he is. There is going to be no dramatic increase in Beleskey’s production unless he magically finds the fountain of youth or a genie, there won’t be growth.
Depending on the point of view, keeping Cody McLeod at the NHL level over Beleskey might actually be a good thing. If the Rangers’ organizational goal is to play other teams close most nights but bottom out for a top ten pick again it can’t hurt to have an outright bad player like McLeod on the ice most nights.
There is a noticeable disparity between the skill levels of McLeod and Beleskey. Take the game against the Calgary Flames on October 21, the enforcer had four shots on goal in the first period. However, because of his weak offensive skills, McLeod was unable to convert any of the chances.
In addition, Beleskey has actually shown the ability to be a relatively high upside bottom six player. The forward is only three years removed from a 37 point season that included 15 goals. That came at age 27 which is typically one of the years of peak production for a player in the NHL.
As a whole, this decision does not do much one way or another. There is no disputing that Beleskey is a better player than McLeod and the Rangers’ fourth line would be better off with him. In addition to being a better player, he’s also a better fighter. Part of the argument for McLeod is his habit of dropping the gloves, however, he only won 51 percent of them last season.
Unless the front office is making this decision based on keeping some extra cap space, I don’t particularly understand the logic. Even then, what does the team need the extra space for? Is the team in the market for a big cap hit in a trade? Why would a team intentionally dress a worse player who does the same exact job as Beleskey?
Hopefully, the Rangers bring Beleskey back and firmly entrench him in the team’s bottom six at some point later in the season.