Note that Hayzie's mancrush causes him to initially credit the assist to Wisniewski.
With the conclusion of the World Juniors, I have started preparing my new prospects list, but a quick look at the current Ducks roster vindicates two decisions on my last list, namely placing Matt Beleskey and Dan Sexton ahead of the pack, or at least ahead of where they were on anyone else's list. Of course, my ranking is based on likelihood of NHL impact, not straightforward prospect skill, but that's another matter.
Team injuries and the Ducks' AHL situation will probably give both Sexton and Beleskey enough GP to graduate from my list, but both may still be sent back to the minors after that. For now, Beleskey is contributing on the first line and Sexton continues to create chances on the second. They're showing their share of flaws, but Daniel, in your estimation, which player has done more to rip up his plane ticket back to the minors?
It has to be Matt Beleskey. Dan Sexton has pretty much been anchored to that second line, and come February, when Selanne and Lupul are back in the lineup, he will not be on the second line. He SHOULD be on the second line, but that's an issue for another question. The point is that Beleskey has had to travel up and down the depth chart and has spent time on all four lines doing a variety of jobs.
Beleskey's ability to grind makes him a solid third line candidate. He has some decent size, and he's shown that he can thrown it around and take the body. He only has one fight to his credit, but I think the kid isn't too afraid to drop the gloves and wouldn't be surprised if he did it again this season. Also, we haven't begun to see the full range of his offensive upside. Beleskey has been focused on being a Bottom 6, being defensively responsible, grinding down defenders etc. However, he has a pretty wicked wrist shot that he can get off in a hurry. Beleskey can play anywhere on the depth chart, and with a glut in the Top 6, albeit unproductive glut at times, his versatility will win out.
This isn't a knock on Big Sexy who has been nothing short of brilliant. I just think that his lack of size and the fact that he hasn't been forced into a serious defensive role means he wouldn't handle the Bottom 6 job as well as Beleskey who has already played in that role. I don't really know if either of them is going anywhere, though. The two of them might be used to form an effective third scoring line along with Ryan Carter or Todd Marchant, which is something the Ducks tried to get going with Lupul earlier this season. I think Beleskey has found a permanent home in the NHL.
I agree that it's Beleskey, and I wish I could agree that both players might stay in the lineup, but I don't see it. Not with Carlyle at the helm. Coach has never given a rookie a free lunch in the NHL, and both of these rookies could benefit from a little more development.
Wait. You don't think being bounced around every line on the team, providing some offensive chances and doing everything your coach asks counts as earning your lunch?
Not with Carlyle. If that were true, Ryan Carter would have cracked this lineup a lot sooner and Drew Miller would have cracked it . . . at all. You're earning your lunch until you're NOT earning it on this team. And regarding Beleskey, selling out the defense to put a hit on another man's check is NOT earning your next meal. In healthier times and steadier AHL affiliate situations, Carlyle has shipped players off for less.
And I think that's another key here. Dan Sexton can learn to minimize his turnovers anywhere, but without an AHL affiliate, Matt Beleskey can only finish his development with the Ducks. He needs to finish learning this system, spend time with Farrish (where he already looks good on the PK) and just generally fine tune his transition to a Ducks uniform.
The thing that Beleskey brings to the table is the same thing he brought to the table in Belleville: poise. As his then coach George Burnett said of him, he can deliver the fight, the block, the big hit or the goal when the team needs it. Daniel, I have to disagree with your assessment somewhat. I know you never saw him play for Belleville or in the AHL, but he can definitely fight and he knows when to fight. His offensive upside doesn't project as high as it once did-- I mean, he's not a dynamic scorer --but again, he has the offensive sense to make a goal happen, even if he primarily uses his teammates to score it.
At the end of the day, Beleskey vindicates the front office's decision to draft two-way players, captains and forwards with size. He's an all-purpose minutes guy with a strong sense of the team and the opportunities to contribute to it, a steadying force more than a game-changing one, but Carlyle seems to value the former over the latter with his rookies.