Perhaps the most surprising part of Matt Beleskey's free agent saga isn't that he signed with the Boston Bruins, but that the contract was for a reasonable amount of money.
Darren Dreger of TSN broke the details of the deal:
5 yrs, $19 mil total for Beleskey in Boston. Aav of $3.8 mil. No move clause in first two years.
— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) July 1, 2015
(As the message came across social media, you could hear the clanking of pitchforks hitting the ground in Boston. Can you blame them? It's been a tough week.)
Whatever Bruins GM Don Sweeney is doing in Boston appears to be in a strange quasi-rebuild due to the salary cap. Does the moves they've made in the past week make them closer to winning? Probably not. So why would Beleskey leave a Ducks team that is a heck of a lot closer to success than the Bruins are at this point?
The answer clearly wasn't wads of money. The Ducks offered Beleskey a $16-million contract for four years; annual value of $4-million. With the Bruins, he gets the extra year and a little less annually. We all know in today's NHL there are GMs willing to throw wads of cash at the best available free agent. It makes you wonder what the six to eight other suitors were offering that Beleskey didn't like.
Eric Stephens of the OC Register tweeted the big sticking point from the beginning between Anaheim and Beleskey was the no movement clause. The Ducks weren't willing to add that in and the Bruins did, for the first two years. Pure speculation here, but it's likely they were holding back in order to protect themselves from carrying a big contract for a player that had one outstanding season after many mediocre ones.
One has to wonder if Beleskey was already at peace with leaving the Ducks. He had a fantastic season, no doubt, but it wasn't easy.
Ducks GM Bob Murray almost dealt Beleskey at the deadline. He had a strong feeling they wouldn't be able to re-sign him in the off-season, but decided not to pull the trigger.
Midway through January, while he was leading the team in goals, Beleskey went through a rough two game set that saw him demoted to the fourth line and eventually healthy scratched for a game. In the playoff series against Chicago, Beleskey was bounced around from line to line. He would attribute the former it to the coach's feeling of how he was playing. With Bruce Boudreau coming back, it would be up to Beleskey as to if he wanted to endure that for (at least) the next year.
All in all, Bruins fans should be happy with this deal. They're getting a relatively young guy at 27-years-old who can score, hit, and fight. He's like Milan Lucic minus the size and death threats. If this past season was just an anomaly, Boston has to sit on the reasonable contract for only two seasons before he can be moved.
Beleskey fits in with the rough and tumble identity of Bruins teams of the past. Who knows kind of identity Sweeney is going for now. He's made some big moves to change it up and relieve salary cap pressure; however, he's only got $8.91-million in space (according to General Fanager) to work with. It might be another season or two before the Bruins figure out who they are again.
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