What do the Rangers have in Matt Beleskey?

matt beleskey

When the Rangers made the big Rick Nash trade, the prize bounty was the first round pick, Ryan Lindgren, and Ryan Spooner. The name Matt Beleskey caught some attention, but mostly because it appeared to be a salary dump by the Bruins to fit Nash’s salary. Beleskey was finishing up the third year of his five year, $3.8 million cap hit deal, but was doing so in Providence in the AHL.

Beleskey was signed to that deal by the Bruins –one that most thought was a bad deal at the time– after his “monster” 2014-2015 season with Anaheim. Beleskey put up 22 goals and 10 assists that year, and was viewed as a breakout player. After a decent but not worth the salary year in 2015-2016, Beleskey was eventually a healthy scratch and then demoted to the AHL.

Beleskey, at least for the moment, appears to be penciled into a roster spot next year. The Rangers don’t have cap space issues, and he’s definitely better than Cody McLeod and Peter Holland. It’s a matter of beating out guys like Boo Nieves and Vinni Lettieri. Worst case scenario, he’s an injury replacement. But the question is what the Rangers are getting in Beleskey, whose contract seems to have marred his actual production.

Based off his primary scoring stats, Beleskey best slides into a fourth line role. Alain Vigneault liked to pin his fourth line in the defensive zone, but that’s not how all coaches do things. Looking at the right half of this, it appears that Beleskey’s contributions are almost entirely offensive, so pinning him in the defensive zone is not a good use of his skills.

This is a lot more in depth look into Beleskey’s performance on the ice. He’s a shooter, and when he gets hot, he puts up seasons like he did in Anaheim. He’s in the 86th percentile in shots, and 84th percentile in shot generation. So when he’s in the offensive zone, he’s likely to put the puck on net and often. His xGF% is pretty high as well.

But it’s defensively we have issues. His shots against performance is among the worst in the league (that’s reversed in the graph above, so the higher the percentile the worse he is). The same goes for his xGA. Defensively he’s a tire fire, but it looks like he more than makes up for it offensively.

Both graphs tell the same story of Beleskey: He is a pure offensive player who, in the right situation, could probably produce. A fourth line role that isn’t a shutdown role is best suited for him.

At $3.8 million, Beleskey wasn’t worth it to Boston. But at $1.9 million, putting him in the right situation might actually boost his trade value for more assets. A Beleskey that plays well is an asset for the Rangers. Putting him in a position to succeed will drive his success.

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  • “But it’s defensively we have issues. His shots against performance is among the worst in the league”

    With Quinn as coach? This puts Matt in Hartford.

    • It’s not just Quinn, it’s the roster.

      Unless they drop Andersson to the 4th line and go hog wild on all O(which is doubtful considering they didn’t chase Duclair that hard) early days suggests they’ll be boring early rather than get into track meets.

      Barring an injury in camp, it’ll be tough for Beleskey to be more than a depth forward.

      • What I heard on Duclair is that his agent, Vin Lecavalier, insisted that he sign in Columbus to learn under Torts. And I was wondering why the Rangers would not go for a $650K contract. Seems like it was not a money issue here.

        I envision a lot of puck possession even in the neutral zone, if for no other reason than to keep the puck away from the opponents. But I do not think that it will be a “trap” D.

        • Interesting tidbid, Richter! Didn’t know Vinny was his agent but makes a hell of a lot of sense.

          • I don’t think Vinny was his agent but that story has been out since Duke signed with CBJ, it’s all over the web.

          • I coldn’t understand why the Rangers woldn’t offer even as much as the $650K. Then I thought it was maybe the Rangers were offering a 2 way contract.

            Then later, after his signing, Duclair made these comments himself.

        • Whoever gave Duclair that advice should lose their player agent certification.

          In what world is Torts good for the development of a 22 year old skill forward with a, possibly, questionable attitude? Maybe the Jackets can trade for Ho-Sang too? If anything it would be fun trying to guess if Torts will either have a stroke or be arrested for a double murder.

          Torts couldn’t even handle Chris Kreider and Kreider is a model citizen.

          • Torts is great at coaching up mediocre players. But mediocre talent only takes you so far. Notice as the Rangers and Jackets added more talent under Torts, both teams dipped in the standings. And lets not forget that Torts couldn’t identify that he had a 40 goal scorer (W. Karlsson) in his lineup and caused his team to lose that 40 goal scorer for nothing.

            The only actual NHL success (2004, TB) Torts had was with a team filled with respected vets and very high end young talent.

            The talent was too good for Torts to mess up and the veterans were able to insulate the team from Torts’ tantrums.

            That’s a very similar formula that the Rangers used in 1994. Volatile prima donna coach, lots of young high end talent, and loads of veterans that could take over running the team when the coach decides to lose his mind (the last 3 games of the NJ series comes to mind here).

          • Ok, I looked again, the agent is Philippe Lecav (Vinnie’s brother).

            CBJs offered a one way NHL minimum contract and Phillipe recommended that Duke play for Torts, and then subsequently he had Vinnie talk to Duke about playing for Torts to convince him to sign.

      • I would try to showcase him as best I could. Put him on a 3rd line with a pair of skilled forwards. Allow him to start most shifts in the offensive end and shoot. Maybe he can use his big body to drive to the net and play net front.

        • Not sure who that was meant for but the Rangers aren’t going anywhere next season. At best they get a few emerging young stars to break into the NHL to stay. So why not try to show off an asset like Beleskey? Get whatever you can for him at next years trade deadline. Not sure how Quinn will set his lines up but most teams now use the 4th line mostly in the Dzone and the 3rd line gets mostly Ozone starts. Long term, I’d probably want him as a 4th line player. For a team that is rebuilding like the Rangers, why not use him in a spot he can build his value now? We aren’t keeping him.

          • It was meant for mint who said that he did not think that Beleskey would be in Hartford, or that’s how I took his post.

            But anyway, in answer to your post, there is being a bad team and the intent to tank, to “Lose for Hughes.” The Rangers are not intentionally tanking, they intent to put out the best team they can with the players they have. No one on the Rangers will allow intentional tanking.

            With that being said, if Matt is a top 12 forward then he will play, if not, then he will be in Hartford. And step #1 is buying into Quinn’s defensive structure, whatever that will be. Unless Matt can score enough goals to offset his defensive deficiencies.

  • On a team that will fight for last place, he needs to compete with Boo to see who adds the most value. How many 3rd and 4th liners do we have 10?

  • Exactly Sal. Just as you said, “compete”, competition should be the theme of training camp.
    Let’s evaluate and give the jobs to those that earn them. Send those that need to learn some aspects of Quinn’s game to the Wolfpack.
    C O M P E T I T I O N.

    As the say in the Marine Corps, “Earned, never given”. Let’s employ that ethic here.


    • Yeah to many people think that certain players will get in on their merit alone.

      I can still see someone like Howden being a wrench for Andersson to make the team. Smith has being going ape crazy with his trainig away from the rink since April. Pionk and Hajek could make his stay as a extra man fighting for scraps if he doesn’t pull through this time around. A early development of Lindgren could be the nail to that coffin. I also don’t see how Vesey sticks around if he hasn’t expanded his game in all 3 zones.

  • Urrr! to that, devildog! I am not sure what happened to Beleskey after that good season -he did score 8 goals in those playoffs that year as well. I’m not concerned about the perception of 3 or 4 liners on the team – many of those turned out be all-stars after a couple of years (see w. karlsson last year) – it’s like you said – they will have to earn that spot.

  • while I appreciate your optimism about possible trade value it’s hard to see much of any really. I watched him in the good season he had in Anaheim and he played with some talented players that elevated his game. There’s really no point in blocking a younger player with some upside for Belesky to be in the line up. He’s better than Cody McLeod and he likes to hit. Beyond that it’s fair to not expect much from him in terms of play or trade value. Hope I’m wrong …

  • With Quinn behind the bench I would think (and I hope) that everyone, including Belesky, comes into camp this year with a clean slate This should also go for vets like Brendan Smith and even our resident tough guy McLeod. But also the youngsters like DeAngelo.

    With strong college experience under his belt one would expect Quinn to be able to relate well to the youngsters, aka Quinn’s Kids. Thus, I personally believe that is the relationship that evolves with the vets that will be the tell-tale sign of how things are going to go.

    One thing is certain, a meritocracy system that rewards those who put in the work and earn spots, regardless of age – young or old – will be a breath of fresh air.

    I have no reason to think it would be any other way, but you never know until it happens….

    • I agree about the clean slate idea, but that doesn’t make players better.

      I wold think that young players like Howden would get a longer look than a guy like Beleskey. But I guess that Matt could surprise.

      • I agree.

        In a perfect world a clean slate AND a merit based approach should equate to seeing the best 20 players on the ice whether that is Beleskey, Howden, or any of the young D.

        Hopefully a new coach with a new approach and lots of new blood will all come together to pay some dividends.

        • “Hopefully a new coach with a new approach and lots of new blood will all come together to pay some dividends.”

          Obviously we do not know yet, but I am betting that it will pay dividends going forward.

  • Quinn has made it very clear that everyone has got a clean slate. I think that counts for Belesky as well.

    My optimism for a miraculous turnaround into a Brian Boyle type player is not high, but I am hopeful he is serviceable enough to create some trade value. Flipping him for even a 4th rounder could be worth it.

    Worst case scenario, AV returns and we have a 4th line of Peter Holland, McLeod, and Belesky all year…. haha.

    All in all, I’m not sure this is something to stress about, but I do think this will be an interesting test to see how committed to true kid development this coaching staff is, based on where they put a guy like Belesky in this lineup, if at all.

    • Belesky makes Boyle look soft, I also see him doing agitation with his hitting. I think Dan Carcillo is a more appropriate comparison to his game to his game. Hopefully he goes after the other teams better players and make them play with their heads up all game. He would be the right kind of muscle to have around if this team gets in the playoffs. I think that there’s 3-4 spots that are wide open after after Pitts, Philly, Tampa, Boston and Tornoto.

  • 1. Just got depressed reading Crosby is only 30 years old? Say it ain’t so !!!!!
    2. Even worse Flyers signing of J.van Reimsdyk really good move for them……best potential second line in hockey…along with nolan patrick and jakob vorachek….
    Flyers poised to have a great year…..
    3. Toronto loses JVR at 7 mil but signs taveras at 11 mil…….bad move…..
    4. When are we resigning tanner glass?
    5. Rangers my preseason favorite to get top pick next june! Unfortunately……6. Penns signing jack johnson….very good move…..

  • Belesky should start the gamesmanship early and buy “”. At least Matt’s HERO chart looks like that of a replacement level NHL player. If it’s between him and McLeod as 4th line/13F, I take Belesky all day every day. That said, I don’t think they brought back McLeod with the intention of him not being on the NHL roster either, unfortunately. Matt will have to look pretty good in camp IMO to beat out Nieves/Lettieri, if that is who he is truly competing with for a spot rather than McLeod.

  • Should be interesting …would like to see Howden make the team….Chytil Lias and Kravtsov on the way ….and Hajek could make the team this year too….Lindgren and Rykov could all be here next year ….we are gonna have to move some guys….let Gorton call the draft shots and keep drafting 7 kids every year and build this thing

  • Should be very interesting …would like to see Howden make the team….Chytil Lias and Kravtsov on the way ….and Hajek could make the team this year too….Lindgren and Rykov could all be here next year ….we are gonna have to move some guys….let Gorton call the draft shots and keep drafting 7 kids every year and build this thing

  • If they pump his tires and make him look good enough, if some other team is crazy enough to take a flier on Beleskey and the Rangers retain half the salary, it would be less than what it costs to stash him in the minors.

  • Look forward to the new Coach….Not AV who put J.T. miller and Namestnikov on the 4th line and Jesper Fast on the top line

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