Matt Beleskey rejects Ducks’ contract offer

Negotiations that initially sounded promising have come to a halt between Matt Beleskey and the Anaheim Ducks. The left winger rejected Anaheim’s deal and will likely test the free agent waters for the first time in his career when the NHL free agency period begins next week.

Tuesday night at the NHL Awards Show in Las Vegas, Ducks general manager Bob Murray told reporters that it’s unlikely a deal will get done.

"I said that when we kept him at the trade deadline, that I doubted it was going to work, and they obviously feel they’re going to do a lot better," Murray said. "I’m very comfortable with the offer we made, we made a really good offer, and it’s just a part of hockey now."

Beleskey is coming off of a career year in which he posted highs of 22 goals and 32 points. He scored eight goals with one assist in the postseason. At 27, the homegrown product is still in his prime.

"I was a big part of drafting him so it’s always difficult," Murray said. "We’ve done a lot of work here and we’ve turned him into a pretty good hockey player."

Beleskey received a fair amount of attention at the trade deadline this season and there was a deal in place, but Murray ultimately rejected it. The G.M. of the Year nominee wanted that scoring prowess in the postseason.

"I could have traded him," Murray said. "I could have traded him the day before the deadline. I had a deal, and I just said, ‘No, that was wrong for my hockey team.’ He played very well in the playoffs."

The Ducks selected Beleskey in the fourth round of the 2006 draft. At the time, he was more of a fighter than a scorer, but the Ducks developed him into a 20-goal scorer.

Beleskey has combined that ability to play physical with a deft scoring touch and finishing ability. He’s now become a true power forward, and those command high prices on the free agent market. With the Ducks facing a myriad of tagging issues after next season, a multi-year contract in the $4-5 million range doesn’t fit into their plans.

Beleskey ends his career in Anaheim with 57 goals, 55 assists and 302 PIM.

Defenseman Francois Beauchemin still has yet to make a deal with Anaheim. Another Anaheim staple, the longtime team leader is 35 and expressed his desire to stay in Orange County throughout the rest of his career. Beauchemin was a part of the Ducks 2007 Stanley Cup team and his kids are involved in the Junior Ducks program.

Teams can begin talking to other clubs on Thursday, June 24. Free agency begins Wednesday, July 1.