From Alzner to Wideman, we're taking a look at and grading (please read the criteria below) the 2011-12 season for every player who laced 'em up for the Caps for a significant number of games during the campaign, with an eye towards 2012-13. Next up,.
#83 / Center / Washington Capitals
Oct 16, 1985
1 (and parts of three others)
$512,500 cap hit in 2011-12; RFA summer 2012
'10-'11 Rink Wrap: 5.45
Key Stat: In 12 playoff games in which he was usually facing opponents' top scoring threats, Beagle wasn't on the ice for a single even-strength goal-against in regulation.
Interesting Stat: In 98 career NHL games (regular season and playoffs), Beagle has one primary assist.
The Good: Beagle set career highs in games played, goals, points and per-game ice time in 2011-12. To that last point, Beagle's ice time increased from a mere 7:08 per game in his first ten games under Dale Hunter (he had played just two games under Bruce Boudreau before missing the next 31 after being concussed by Aaron Asham) to 16:17 over the last ten games of the regular season before peaking with a whopping 35:04 in the six-period epic in Game 3 of the playoffs' second round.
And it was in those playoffs where Beagle drew national attention, in part as a common point of comparison when discussing Ovechkin's relatively minimal minutes, but more because he was awfully effective in the role of shutdown forward. Beagle played a dozen games in the post-season (before missing the last two with a broken foot), and in 221 minutes, including 32 shorthanded, he was on the ice for two power-play goals-against and two even-strength goals-against (unfortunately, those happened to be the Round 1, Game 1 and Round 2, Game 3 overtime game-winners). He won 54% of his faceoffs (including 59.5% on the road, 51.2% shorthanded and 55.3% in the defensive zone, where he started a higher percentage of his shifts than all but a few players). Beagle's Corsi wasn't good (even relatively, though that owes in part to the zone starts), but his goals-against/60 sure was, which makes him a perfect poster boy for Hunter Hockey.
Ultimately, Jay Beagle's 2011-12 was the story of a guy whose cap hit was actually below the League-minimum salary, who came back from a brutal injury, worked his way into his coach's confidence (thanks to some good ratios in tough minutes and superb penalty-killing), and excelled in the role he was asked to play when it mattered most.
The Bad: Beagle provides next-to-nothing offensively, so he can't be making many mistakes defensively. (Did he make one here? Yeah, probably). And he lost the Round 2, Game 5 faceoff in the final thirty seconds on which Joel Ward took the double-minor penalty that will forever live in infamy. But seriously, that we're nitpicking individual plays out of a 53-game body of work says a lot about Beagle's season; in actuality, the worst thing about Jay Beagle in 2011-12 was the explosion of canine-related puns he inspired.
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: Beagle excelled as a third-line center during the playoffs, but is that really a role in which he can be expected to have sustained success? A restricted free agent this summer, what sort of deal should the Caps be looking for in negotiations with Beagle (dollars and term)? What is Jay Beagle's role on a team with Stanley Cup aspirations? Finally, what will it take for him to earn a 10 rating next year?