The Washington Capitals have a problem they hope to address. Though the forward lines are stacked, even down to the fourth line, the team needs to address the position of a third line centre.
Considering this is the checking line, the team needs a big, physical forward who can generate offense and play a solid all-around game. However, they have the solution to this problem sitting on their roster, centering the fourth line. Jay Beagle deserves a promotion.
“I want to be a third-line center,” Beagle told CSN. “That’s what I want to be. That’s up to the coaching staff. Coming into this year, that was my goal, to make that third line stronger and I felt the coaches gave me that opportunity and when I had that opportunity I did my best with it.”
Beagle perfectly fits what the Capitals need in this position. He is big, standing at 6-foot-3 and weighing in at 210 pounds. He’s a solid two-way forward who can not only create scoring opportunities, but prove excellent on the backcheck.
Let’s look at his ability to generate offense. In 57 regular season games, Beagle put up 17 points (eight goals, nine assists), and finished the postseason campaign with three goals. His season was interrupted in early January, when he broke his hand and had to undergo surgery, which set him back and cut into his playing time.
“I think I had a pretty good season. Breaking my hand midway set me back a bit, but I think coming back on the ice I didn’t feel I was 100 percent with grip strength and it took a bit to find a groove again…” Beagle said. “…But I found it later in the season and in the playoffs I felt pretty good.”
Beagle split time between the third and fourth line, but mostly spent time on the latter line between Tom Wilson and Daniel Winnik. There, he generated a lot of opportunities and proved himself as a player. Despite his bottom-six role and relatively low scoring numbers, Beagle’s play speaks louder volumes than his stats.
When watching Beagle, it’s easy to see how he plays. He uses his speed and on-ice intelligence to win battles along the boards, make that extra push and create scoring chances. He takes the puck all the way to the net, crashes the crease and does what he can to score.
Not to mention, Beagle has that determination and ability to win races for dump-ins and battles along the boards and create chances on the fly. In Beagle, you see the extra push and the hustle and incredible offensive awareness. He also creates scoring chances and takes shots that you would never think of. Beagle is one of the only players I know of that has the ability to score on sharp angle shots.
Beagle also has outstanding defensive ability. He can make big hits and shot blocks, and is outstanding on the penalty kill. When Beagle is on the ice, he is always making defensive plays. The Alberta native had 55 hits and 24 shot blocks this season and brought that outstanding defensive play to the playoffs.
This is probably Beagle’s best play of the postseason. Willingly, he dove and sacrificed his entire body, throwing himself into the net to stop the puck from going in. Beagle showed that he would battle until the last minute and do whatever it took to keep the Capitals’ season alive. With desperation and extraordinary saves like that, Beagle has exemplified great ability in both zones.
Thanks to his excellent defensive ability, physicality and potential on offense, Beagle is more than ready to take over the role of the third line centre for Washington. And from the looks of it, he’s ready to fight for the role.
Sammi Silber covers the Capitals beat for The Hockey Writers and is an NHL contributor with Sporting News. She has also contributed to USA TODAY College, Huffington Post, FanSided and the Nation Network. Silber has written four books and recently worked on graphics for the film, The California Golden Seals Movie.