- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 1, 2018

Younger and cheaper.

That’s the formula the Washington Capitals stuck with when the franchise lost veterans to free agency last offseason. And after winning the Stanley Cup, it’s a formula the team is sticking with again this offseason.

The Capitals responded to the loss of free agent Jay Beagle Sunday to the Vancouver Canucks by re-signing center Travis Boyd and agreeing to terms with Nic Dowd.

Beagle signed a four-year $12 million deal with the Canucks, who were one of several bidders for the 32-year-old’s services. The price was beyond what the Capitals were willing to pay, given the franchise’s limited salary cap space.

An undrafted free agent in 2007, Beagle spent his entire career with Washington, making his debut in 2009. He was valued for his ability to win faceoffs, kill penalties and his work ethic.

Boyd, 24, played well in limited action last season, appearing in eight regular season games and in Game 6 of the Capitals‘ series-clinching win against the Pittsburgh Penguins in the second round. The Capitals gave Boyd, a pending restricted free agent, a two-year, $1.6 million contract.

Dowd, meanwhile, is a veteran center coming off an underwhelming season. After finishing with 16 goals in 2016-17, the 28-year-old scored just three times in 56 games. Dowd was also traded from the Los Angeles Kings to the Canucks in December. He signed a one-year, $650,000 contract to join the Capitals.

Washington has a recent history of getting the most out of players seen as underperformers. Wingers Devante Smith-Pelly and Alex Chiasson were productive for the Capitals, following their additions last offseason. Both had struggled elsewhere.

Smith-Pelly, in particular, was a postseason hero — scoring seven goals. The Capitals rewarded him with a one-year, $1 million contract last week.

The Capitals are expected to remain quiet in free agency after addressing most of their priorities last week. The team re-signed defensemen John Carlson (eight-year, $64 million) and Michal Kempny (four-year, $10 million), in addition to retaining Smith-Pelly.

The franchise promoted Todd Reirden from associate to head coach Friday, a move that was expected after Barry Trotz’ resignation on June 18.

Washington would have liked to retain Beagle, but with only $8.2 million in cap space remaining and restricted free agents Tom Wilson and defenseman Madison Bowey still unsigned, the numbers didn’t add up.

Chandler Stephenson, Andre Burakovsky and Jakub Vrana — all important pieces in the Capitals‘ Stanley Cup run — will need raises next offseason, as they will become RFAs.

Beagle told reporters on a conference call that Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan notified his agent Washington was pulling itself out of negotiations once other teams got involved.

Last season, Beagle had a 58.5 faceoff percentage, which ranked fifth among players who won at least 100 draws. He was also third on the Capitals in short-handed ice time, playing the third-most minutes.

Boyd and Dowd will compete to fill Beagle’s old spot on the fourth-line.

The Capitals‘ most pressing remaining need is re-signing Wilson.

Washington will need to find another top-six defenseman after Brooks Orpik was traded to the Colorado Avalanche with goaltender Philipp Grubauer. The Capitals could look to add a veteran — such as Orpik since he was released by the Avalanche — but they have a number of younger prospects who will get a shot in training camp to earn the spot.

It’s assumed Pheonix Copley, the franchise’s starting goaltender in the minors, will become Braden Holtby’s backup. Washington, too, has goaltender and 2015 first-rounder Ilya Samsonov waiting in the wings, though he is expected to spend a year in Hershey first.

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