At one point, it seemed like a sure thing that the Anaheim Ducks would be able to lock things up with Matt Beleskey. But now, it looks like things have broken down and the 27-year-old from Windsor is likely to test free agency come July 1.
Anaheim general manager Bob Murray says they made Beleskey another offer, but the winger’s asking price is too high.
“It’s a bumpy road right now. I’m not going to lie. We’re going to take one more shot at it, and then we’ll have to move on,” Murray said on Monday. “You gotta protect yourself. It’s not just the contract this year; it’s what it does to your team in future years…You gotta see what that contract does to you, the term of it. There’s lots of things that go into this that people don’t see right off the bat.”
Beleskey is coming off a career season in Anaheim, scoring 22 goals in the regular season. He had eight goals in the post-season and was making $1.35 million a year. He has said publicly that he wants to remain a Duck, but the timing is right for him to check out his options.
The Ducks have to contend with expiring contracts to Francois Beauchemin and Tomas Fleischmann, both of whom are unrestricted free agents. They also have RFAs Jakob Silfverberg and Emerson Etem on the list.
You don’t have to be a hockey expert to figure out what’s happening here. Beleskey had a honey of a year and wants to capitalize. The Ducks are tentative. Murray isn’t the sort of general manager to overpay on the basis of one good year.
Beleskey first suited up for Anaheim in the 2008-2009 season, when he played two games. He was back for 60 in 2009-2010, where he scored 11 goals and added seven assists. He was a -10 on that season, though, and split time the next year between the Ducks and the AHL Syracuse Crunch. His next full season with Anaheim was in 2011-2012, when he had just four goals in 70 games.
As always, the issue is with determining whether or not the 22-goal season was an anomaly. Prior to this past regular season, Beleskey’s scored more than nine goals just the once – in his first year. Prior to that, he’s collected decent but not great point totals. He could be ready to break out at 27 or he could’ve had a lucky season. That’s the gamble.
Right now, most signs point to Beleskey testing free agency. There will be a number of teams interested in his services, that’s for sure. If they’re interesting in what he’s asking, which could be as much as $4 million a season, he’ll find a new home.
Another possible outcome: Murray trades Beleskey’s rights ahead of the July 1 deadline. Ah, summer.