Who doesn’t like Jay Beagle? He works his tail off on and off the ice, in games and in practices and it shows. Deemed by Coach Barry Trotz “Beagle time all the time” (EPIX Road to the Winter Classic), the hard work and strong play Beagle put in the last few seasons, paid off this offseason. Beagle, a Calgary native who went undrafted, signed a 3 year-$5.25 million deal on July 5, 2015. His second contract with the Caps.
Fans rejoice knowing Beagle will suit up in the Nation’s Capital for another 3 seasons. Many were nervous, as in the past we saw Matt “The Paralyzer” Hendricks, who filled a similar role for the Caps, depart to the Nashville Predators via free agency in 2013.
But what makes Beagle so special? Why did the Caps resign him to a 3 year deal with an annual cap hit of $1,750,000 (via spotrac.com)?
When Beagle steps on the ice, his energy is felt by teammates and fans. Beagle is a speedy guy and it certainly shows on the fore-check and in his relentless pursuit of the puck. Trotz trust in Beagle’s defensive capabilities shows as he is on the ice often when Trotz wants to protect a lead. He’s also one of the teams top penalty killers and frankly, I’d be worried about this area had Beagle not resigned with the Caps.
Trotz isn’t shy when it comes to talking about what Beagle brings to the Caps:
“He does all of what I call the grunt work,” Coach Barry Trotz said. “The penalty killing, the draws, those types of things. Those character guys, everybody in the room always cheers for them.”
Neither is Ovechkin:
“He’s probably the hardest working guy on the team, maybe the NHL,” forward Alex Ovechkin said. “He just wants to compete every single time.”
Although for a short time last season Trotz entrusted him with a role on the Caps top line alongside superstars Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom, Beagle mostly works as a bottom line center. Many believe Beagle has a shot at winning third line center duties out of camp this offseason and they could be right. But as time goes by it seems that the Caps third line could be deployed, as more of a scoring line than it being used as the league’s typical checking line. Beagle stated shortly after signing his new deal, his eyes are set on the 3rd line center spot.
“I think this last season I kind of showed that I can play in all situations and if they need me on the fourth line, I’m definitely there, but I don’t see myself as a fourth-line guy,” he said. “Ideally, I’ve always said, always told people that my dream job is that third-line center position, that checking center position. … If you ask me, that’s my dream position and that’s what I’m looking for coming into training camp and that’s what will be a goal of mine.” (Alex Prewitt Washington Post)
Beagle finished the 2014-15 Season with 10 goals, 10 assists and a +6 in +/-, all career highs. He played in all 14 of the Caps playoff games and was one of the Caps most productive players finishing with 1 goal and 4 assists and an even +/-.
It will be interesting to see which line Beagle settles in on out of training camp and through the first games of the season. It would be nice to have someone that excels on the faceoff dot playing on that third line but will it be the right fit for him? Time will tell. But I think we could make an argument that Beagle is the heart of this talented Caps team. After all he plays with a lot of heart on the ice and energizes everyone around him. Not many players come into the league undrafted and excel. We’re all cheering for “Beagle Time all the Time.”
As for me, I will start my vocal exercise so when Beagle takes the ice opening night I can begin howling at the television!
By Zach Hart