From Alzner to Wideman, we're taking a look at and grading (please read the criteria below) the 2010-11 season for every player who laced 'em up for the Caps for a significant number of games during the campaign, with an eye towards 2011-12. Next up, Jay Beagle.
#83 / Center / Washington Capitals
Oct 16, 1985
1 (and a cup o' coffee in two others)
$512,000 cap hit in 2011-12; RFA after 2011-12 season
Previous Rink Wraps: N/A
Key Stat: His line won 63% of its defensive draws at even-strength (62 for 98) in 2010-11, a team-best rate.
The Good: Are you surprised that Beagle got a sweater for over 30 games this past regular season? He first established himself as a serviceable injury replacement, and then elevated his defensive game to a level worthy of a lengthy 21-game recall (and another spanning six contests).
Want more solid numbers than those two stats above? He drew 11 penalties while committing just four at even-strength. Credited with 1.45 hits per game, fifth-best among Caps' forwards (including the traded David Steckel), he threw his middleweight frame around enough to throw off tough competition (third-highest QualComp to Matt Bradley and Boyd Gordon), finishing with the top GA/60 (1.90) amongst all fourth line forwards, and with a minus rating just five times in those 31 regular season games.
On the PK, he was the only Caps forward to average at least a minute of 4-on-5 ice time per 60 and not be on ice for a single PP goal against.
The Bad: No one expects Beagle to light the lamp on the regular basis, but one can reasonably expect some offense. He notched but a single, secondary assist in 24 games after December. By contrast, Matt Hendricks tallied three goals and five assists during a similar span, playing similar minutes. Beagle's points per 60 minutes were worst amongst all Caps forwards. Yes, even D.J. King.
Though an inspiring story of a late bloomer growing, by skill, determination, and sheer will, into a skater taking a regular grinder's shift at the highest level, #83 has not yet once dropped the mitts at that level. An attribute still very much valued in the NHL, frequent linemates Hendricks (team-high 14 bouts), Bradley (10 fights), and Jason Chimera (four dust-ups) carried the pugilistic load. If Beagle does become a full-season contributor in 2011-12, he's likely going to have to answer more than a few challenges himself. But on the middleweight card, we think he could handle it. At least if this scrap -- which I witnessed in Chocolate Town two years ago, and which left quite a mess on the ice -- is any indication.
The Vote: Rate Beagle below on a scale of 1-10 (10 being the best) based on his performance relative to his potential and your expectations for the season - if he had the best year you could have imagined him having, give him a 10; if he more or less played as you expected he would, give him a 5 or a 6; if he had the worst year you could have imagined him having, give him a 1.
The Discussion: Has #83 shown enough to be trusted as a regular in the lineup next season, possibly making UFA Bradley expendable? What will it take for him to earn a 10 rating next year?