Player Preview: Matt Beleskey

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Mar 29, 2014; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN; forward Matt Beleskey (39) checks Vancouver Canucks defenseman Ryan Stanton (18) during the third period at Rogers Arena. The Anaheim Ducks won 5-1. Mandatory Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

Matt Beleskey seemed like he was poised to take that next step entering the 2013-2014 season. After many years in a full-time role with the Ducks, Beleskey earned himself a two year, $2.7 million extension after the lockout season, where he scored eight goals. He had emerged during the lockout season as one of the many partners for Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry, and he topped it off with a solid postseason, scoring two goals in the series against Detroit.

There were opportunities for Beleskey to really cement his status as a top complementary option for this team, but he suffered a broken thumb just two games into the season and missed 20 games as a result. He returned and eventually worked his way into the mix for a top-six spot, with players such as Jakob Silfverberg getting hurt and others such as Kyle Palmieri never really finding the consistency to cement a role on the top two lines.

Beleskey set career highs in assists, points, and +/- last year, but he faced some problems with inconsistency and had a stretch of 19 games where he scored no goals, including three games where he was a healthy scratch. However, he had a real strong finish to the regular season, scoring in three consecutive games against Vancouver, San Jose, and Los Angeles. The finish helped Beleskey get the top-line spot with Getzlaf and Perry to close out the regular season and in the start of the playoffs.

Though Beleskey contributed two points in Game 1, he suffered a lower-body injury that caused him to miss the next four games. He returned in the clinching Game 6 and for the first three games against Los Angeles, but after a hit by Dustin Brown in Game 3, Beleskey was sidelined for the rest of the series with another lower-body injury, which turned out to be a torn abdominal muscle.

Beleskey is a rugged player who plays a mean, gritty game for a Ducks team that doesn’t really have too many players with that type of bite and snarl. With Beleskey set to enter unrestricted free agency at the end of this season, he should be plenty motivated to produce a career year. Here is a report on what Beleskey does well and what he needs to improve on in order to both help the Ducks and receive a new contract.

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