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While defenseman John Carlson’s future in a Capitals sweater has been among the most-talked about contract decisions the Caps will have to make in the coming months, one of the team’s other valuable veterans is also in the final year of his contract, and despite his value to the team, Jay Beagle’s future with the Capitals seems to have become a forgotten topic. Which begs the question: What does the future hold for No. 83?
While Beagle may not have the star power and/or resume of Carlson, he has certainly established himself as one of the Capitals’ most important players through a hard work ethic and as a player who is willing to do the dirty work in all areas of the ice. Signed by the Caps as an undrafted free agent, Beagle, like Carlson, has spent his entire NHL career in the District and has become an undisputed fan favorite. In his eighth full season with the Capitals, Beagle has become one of Head Coach Barry Trotz’ most trusted penalty killers and as mentioned above, is in the final year of a three-year, $5.25 million deal, that pays him an average of $1.75 million a season. Assuming the Capitals will want to retain him (which is a probably a safe assumption to make), the challenge will then become determining how much he is worth?
Beagle has never been a major offensive contributor (his career-high in points and goals is 13 and 30, respectively, which he reached last season), but he is one of the Caps’ best defensive forwards, and is one of the team’s best penalty killers and faceoff men, evidenced by his career 56.1% faceoff win percentage. While it may be premature to discuss potential contract numbers, it’s not out of the realm of possibility to think Beagle could ask for $2-3 million on his next contract. While he may not be a huge impact offensively, Beagle is on pace for nine goals, 15 assists, and 24 points this season.
But perhaps more importantly, Beagle’s value to the Capitals comes not only on the ice, but off it as well. Like Carlson, Beagle is one of the Caps’ most-respected leaders and is without question a fan favorite. And also like Carlson, Beagle has a family to think about when it comes to signing his next contract. Ultimately, it will be up to Beagle to decided where he plays, but it may be safe to say that losing Beagle may hurt almost as much as losing Carlson. Only time will tell.
By Michael Fleetwood