Jay Beagle is one of the most valuable and popular players on the Capitals and rightfully so. He isn’t a former first-round pick like so many of his teammates nor is he a deadly goal-scorer like captain Alex Ovechkin. No, Beagle is a former undrafted free agent who had to fight his way to the top.
Born in Calgary, Beagle played with the American Junior Hockey League’s (AJHL) Calgary Royals from 2003-05, followed by stops with the University of Alaska-Anchorage and the East Coast Hockey League’s (ECHL) Idaho Steelheads before he signed as an undrafted free agent with the Capitals on March 26, 2008. Assigned to their American Hockey League affiliate, the Hershey Bears, Beagle won two Calder Cups with the Bears (2009 and 2010) and made his NHL debut on February 11, 2009. He played three games total for the Caps, recording no points before being returned to Hershey. From the end of that season onwards, Beagle played just 34 more games for the Bears and has been with Washington ever since. In his Capitals career, Beagle has recorded 59 points in 290 career games.
As mentioned before, that is not why the Capitals handed the 30-year old Calgary native a three-year, $5.25 million contract last July. Beagle is one of the team’s best faceoff men and was among the NHL’s leaders in that category before he was injured; an injury that has cost him several weeks of recovery after his hand injury required surgery. Beagle also provides the Capitals’ coaches with a reliable penalty-killer and gritty defensive game. Beagle recorded a career high 10 goals and 10 assists for 20 points last season and was the team’s third-line center until his injury and was on pace for a career year offensively. He brings energy to a lineup that has benefited from his tireless work ethic and dedication to the team.
Beagle’s value is not measured in goals or points, but by leadership, tenacity, and a sound defensive game. From being an undrafted player with an uncertain future, to becoming a key component of a Stanley Cup contender, Beagle has truly lived any hockey player’s dream of playing in the NHL and becoming successful. When he returns to the lineup, one could bet Beagle will be right back to being a trusted and reliable member of the team and will be tirelessly hounding away for the puck. (Pun intended)
By Michael Fleetwood