Ducks begin extension talks with leading goalscorer Beleskey

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One thing Anaheim GM Bob Murray probably didn’t expect this season was negotiating new deal for his top sniper.

Under normal circumstances, that guy would be Corey Perry, who’s locked in through 2021. But this year, Anaheim’s leading goalscorer is an unlikely individual — Matt Beleskey — who’ll be a UFA at season’s end. Beleskey’s agent, Murray Kuntz, has already started negotiations with the Ducks.

“You do think about the future,” Beleskey said, per the O.C. Register. “I want nothing more than to stay in Anaheim. I’ve never been anywhere else and I don’t think there’s a reason to go anywhere else.

“This is where I’d like to be. Hopefully we’ll see what happens.”

We’ve written about Beleskey’s breakout campaign already, but a quick refresher: The 26-year-old, a career checking forward that’s never scored more than 11 goals in a single season, currently sits tied for ninth in the NHL (17 goals) with the likes of Evgeni Malkin, James van Riemsdyk and John Tavares.

What’s more, Beleskey sits tied atop the league in game-winning goals, with five.

Translation: He’s about to get paaaaaaid.

The question now is, how much? Ducks GM Bob Murray isn’t commenting on negotiations and one has to think that, at the bargaining table, Murray will mention that Beleskey’s greatly benefited from playing with Perry and Ryan Getzlaf.

(One also wonders if Murray will do something similar to what Brian Burke did with Brendan Morrison in Vancouver a few years ago. During an arbitration hearing, Burke used a parable about “a mouse crossing a river on the back of an elephant, then taking equal credit for the crossing.” Morrison, who racked up career-best numbers playing alongside Markus Naslund and Todd Bertuzzi, was the mouse.)

One thing seems for certain: Beleskey will get a raise on the $1.35 million he’s currently making.

Contract year or not (or, sustainable metrics or not), GMs cannot ignore stats or try to downplay production; just ask Columbus GM Jarmo Kekalainen, who shelled out $33 million over five years for Nick Foligno, who’s currently in the midst of a career-best campaign in his UFA year.

“The way contract negotiations go in this league, it’s impossible not to take into consideration how guys are producing in the statistics,” Kekalainen explained, per the Boston Globe. “If you don’t put enough weight in them, the other side will make sure you’re aware of the statistical side of the negotiation.”