BRIGHTON -- After the most disappointing season of his NHL career, Matt Beleskey has turned a summer of motivated work into a training camp of results.
The 29-year-old was at a bit of a crossroads with the Bruins after a knee injury, and the associated conditioning issues, dropped him to three goals and eight points with a minus-10 in 49 games.
Beleskey was talked about in trade rumors and left unprotected in this summer's expansion draft. Some even wondered if the Bruins might attempt to buy out the final three years of his contract. But Beleskey wound up staying, and was determined to put in the hard offseason work necessary to get back to his previous level of hard-nosed, maximum-effort play.
So far it's worked. In training camp Beleskey was a gritty, physical player able to keep up with the high-tempo pace and make the subtle plays -- screening in front of the net, forcing mistakes on the forecheck -- while adding occasional offense as well. It was the Beleskey that the Bruins needed to see in camp amid a highly competitive group of forwards, and he’s satisfied with the way things played out now that the regular season is around the corner.
It would be a huge benefit to the B's if he can get back to the guy that parlayed his hard-nosed approach into 15 goals and 37 points in 80 games during his first season in Boston.
“It’s a good start. It’s what I came back to do,” said Beleskey of his promising showing in camp. “Now it’s the real thing and time to get going. I don’t know how to explain it, but you just feel better. You feel that work you put in, and you feel faster getting to pucks and taking advantage of opportunities.
“It’s good to see the work pay off, but it’s just the beginning. I’m excited to be where we’re at and now it’s just time to get going.”
The one big question is where he'll will fit into the mix up front. Beleskey could be a quick fix for a top-6 left wing spot if Jake DeBrusk struggles out of the gate with David Krejci, but it looks like he’s destined to start on the bottom-6 until he shows that his offensive game is all the way back. Beleskey skated at left wing on the third line with Ryan Spooner and David Backes at Tuesday’s practice ahead of opening night, and that’s the kind of spot where he’s likely to begin the season.
No matter where he’s positioned to start the season, the good news is that the Beleskey of two years ago looks to be back with his pounding physicality, high energy and offense that’s a little better than you might expect.