There was little doubt Jay Beagle was the Washington Capitals’ most improved player from the All-Star break on last season. He took on a substantial role as a shutdown center and penalty-killing, faceoff and defensive specialist.
On Thursday the Caps rewarded him as such with a new three-year deal worth $2.7 million. His cap hit each of the next three seasons will be $900,000.
“There’s no other place I’d rather be,” Beagle said on a conference call Friday. “If the Capitals are willing to give me two years, I thought, and I wasn’t sure how many years we could go to and I want to sign a longer deal and really establish myself and play here. I was thrilled when we got it done.
Beagle is getting a significant raise from the $525,000 he made last season. This is his first totally one-way contract of the 26-year-old’s pro career.
Beagle missed 31 games last season with a concussion suffered in October, but once he got into the groove under coach Dale Hunter his game improved drastically. With help from assistant coach Dean Evason, he became a go-to guy on faceoffs and took pride in shutting down opponents’ top lines.
He missed the end of the Rangers series with a broken foot that he played on for almost two periods.
“I love to play and obviously in the playoffs it’s do or die, desperation hockey,” Beagle said in May. “I wasn’t going to leave my team a man short in the game. You gut through it and know that the pain will be over soon and just kind of get through it.”
Beagle confirmed again Friday he’ll be OK to start training camp.
“Yes, definitely, yep. The foot’s healed up completely; I have no problems with it. Flexibility and everything on my foot and ankle, everything’s come right back to normal,” he said. “I probably am going to start skating next week. I’ve put my foot in the boot a couple times just to see how it feels. I’m already at full stride of training. I see no reason why this should slow me down at all.”
After new deals for Beagle and Mathieu Perreault, the Caps’ remaining restricted free agents at the NHL level are Mike Green and John Carlson.