For the longest time, Beagle maintained the fourth line center position for the Washington Capitals. That's all. And he did an alright job at that. He won face offs, played smart defensively. Basically everything you would expect from a fourth line center.
But then, Mikhail Grabovski got injured. And then, Head Coach Adam Oates thought that Jay Beagle would make a great top six center to replace Grabovski's production. And then, apparently it made sense to put Beagle on the top line with Alexander Ovechkin.
It didn't make sense. Like, not at all. What is the most opposite word of making sense? I guess nonsense? Yeah, it was nonsense.
Now, you can't judge Beagle's season as a whole based on his production on the top line. Actually, it was sometimes even the second line. You can't judge him on that production because he is not a top six forward. We can still look at his numbers, but almost in the same sense that Martin Erat and Dustin Penner was misused, Jay Beagle was also misused. Let's take a look at some of his numbers. All stats are obtained from extra skater, in all game situations.
It's actually surprising to see that Jay Beagle shot the puck far fewer times this season than last season. This could be because he was playing with Ovechkin, who shoots the puck 5 billion times a game. His offensive numbers didn't see that big of a jump from last season either. One concerning point to see from Beagle is that his face off percentage dropped nearly five percentage points from last season. The Caps have always had a guy who was a face off specialist in the past, between Dave Steckel, Boyd Gordon and Jeff Halpern. These guys were at 57-58 percentages, and that is where Beagle has been in his past two seasons, but this season he was only at just 51.7 percent. That needs to improve. Another concerning stat regarding Beagle is his penalty kill time. It dropped off by over a minute per game from last year (2.1 penalty kill minutes in 2013 and just 0.9 penalty kill minutes per game this season). It's important for a guy like Jay Beagle to excel at the penalty kill, but it is odd to see him rank in 8th in penalty kill minutes at the forward position. Let's take a look at his corsi, fenwick and PDO numbers in 5 on 5 close situations.
|Season||CF||CA||CF%||CF% Rel||FF||FA||FF%||FF% Rel||PDO|
Yikes. Those are not very good possession numbers. His quality of competition at the defensemen position was only 27.6 percent, which is one of the lowest on the team, and his offensive quality of competition was pretty low as well at just 24.5 percent. He spent majority of his time playing with Tom Wilson, Marcus Johansson and Jason Chimera, and the defensemen he spent the most time with were Mike Green and Karl Alzner. So, while he did spend time getting minimum minutes with low-quality minutes on the fourth line, his numbers were just not that good. In fact, in his last ten games, where he spent time with Ovechkin, his corsi for was still just 94, while his corsi against was 131, which is pretty awful still.
I blame Beagle's pairing with Ovechkin for Ovechkin going through the entire month of March without an even strength point. That actually happened. Ovechkin went an entire month without scoring an even strength point. I guess I shouldn't blame Beagle, because it wasn't up to him to play with Ovechkin, it was Oates' doing. But, it was just painfully obvious that Beagle just shouldn't be playing with Ovechkin. He's a born 4th line center, 3rd line center if you need it.
But, I think Beagle is an important part of this team when he is used correctly. He must improve on that face off percentage from last year. His teammates love him, and have stated in the locker room that he plays a very underrated role very, very well. Beagle is through next season, and while a guy like him generally turns into a journeyman around the NHL, I think the Caps can do no wrong if they choose to extend his contract.
Jay Beagle's Grade: C+