The hottest goal scorer on the NHL’s unrestricted free agent market will likely be wearing a new sweater next season.
The Anaheim Ducks have made one last offer to winger Matt Beleskey prior to July 1, according to general manager Bob Murray, but the team appears ready to cut ties if the breakout sniper doesn’t drop his asking price.
“It’s a bumpy road right now. I’m not going to lie. We’re going to take one more shot at it, and then we’ll have to move on,” Murray told Hockey Central at Noon Monday.
“You gotta protect yourself. It’s not just the contract this year; it’s what it does to your team in future years. You’ve gotta be looking one, three, five, seven years out. You gotta see what that contract does to you, the term of it. There’s lots of things that go into this that people don’t see right off the bat.”
Beleskey, who turned 27 two weeks ago, enjoyed a career season in California, scoring 22 goals, adding 10 assists and posting a career-high plus-13 rating. In 16 playoff games, he scored eight more times. Not bad for a $1.35-million cap hit.
Publicly, Beleskey has expressed his desire to remain a Duck, but the Windsor, Ont., native will have no shortage of suitors in a shallow free-agent pool.
Anaheim must also deal with the expiring contracts of UFAs Francois Beauchemin and Tomas Fleischmann, plus RFAs Emerson Etem and Jakob Silfverberg, among others.
“The organization has some very difficult decisions coming up in the next two or three months,” said Murray, who was named to Team Canada’s World Cup front office Monday.
If negotiations fall through with Beleskey, Murray said he would consider trading his rights before the July 1 deadline.