NHL Free Agency: Matt Beleskey Risky Forward To Pursue For Dallas Stars Forward Needs
Matt Beleskey has one of the highest offense outputs among expected free agents this summer. But he might be in the 'buyer beware' category, which means the Dallas Stars should shy away from pursuing him.
Matt Beleskey enjoyed quite a career year last season, posting a career-high 22 goals and 32 points. He rode shotgun next to the Anaheim Ducks' top forward duo of Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry at times throughout the season.
Which is the first red flag for a team looking for consistent offensive production from Beleskey in his anticipated long-term, high-dollar contract. I don't blame Beleskey for seeking stability and as high of a salary as he can obtain as possible. After all, we would all do the same in this situation. He also gets the advantage of being in one of the weakest free agent classes in quite some time as far as forwards are concerned. His career year combined with that fact should give him a hefty contract, but....
There's always a 'but'. His career numbers came last year on an absurd shooting percentage of 15.2%, nearly double his highest season prior to this year. It's also not likely to be sustainable, and that inevitable drop in shooting percentage indicates he will not likely be a consistent 20-goal scorer moving forward.
Also, it's not much of a coincidence Beleskey posted career numbers next to Getzlaf and Perry. Those guys make their third forward look really good, much like Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin made a lot of guys slotted next to them this year. If Beleskey is not put into a similar situation on his new team, it is possible he will struggle to produce at his highest career rate consistently.
So the question becomes: could he have that kind of setup next to Benn and Seguin, or even on a line with Jason Spezza?
The answer is that it is possible he could slot into a top-six role in Dallas. After all, there is no real indication how Ales Hemsky will look after his hip surgery procedure and a limited off-season of training. The Stars may want to add some insurance with a guy like Beleskey in case Hemsky struggles to start the year. Both Seguin and Spezza are very good pivots, so Beleskey would have opportunity to pot some points playing next to either one.
However, Beleskey is rumored to be seeking long-term and over $4 million a season, having rejected that kind of deal from the Ducks already. That is top-six money for a player that would be an ideal third line winger that adds some scoring depth insurance for this Stars team.
He's also generally not a positive possession player, according to his Corsi stats on War-On-Ice. In a system like Dallas, who relies on puck possession to be the crux of their play, could Beleskey see those numbers pushed up? It is likely. But do you want another $4 million+ forward in the top nine to figure out if that would be the case?
I'd pass on Beleskey, personally. He'd be a good fit at a better dollar amount and shorter term, like a two- or three-year deal, but at $4 million and longer term, I have a feeling Beleskey's contract will look more like an albatross in the very near future for the team that does sign him.