Uh oh, today is Jay Beagle day. That’s not going to be easy because:
|14.0||time on ice per game|
|50.5||5v5 shot-attempt percentage|
|55.9||5v5 goal percentages|
About this visualization: This series of charts made by Micah McCurdy of hockeyviz.com shows various metrics for the player over the course of the 2015-16 season. A short description of each chart:
When Brian MacLellan spoke to the press earlier this week, he said his goal for next year is to improve the offensive potential of the third line. Like a lot of us, the Caps GM wants to think of his forwards not as a top six and a bottom six, but as a top nine and a bottom three. For all his virtues, Jay Beagle is not a viable player for the top nine.
And yet, Beagle owned the third line center spot for the first two and a half months of the season. He spent more than half the year on that line, and it would have been more if not for a broken hand in December. Usually centering Tom Wilson and Jason Chimera, Beagle and the third line looked severely out of joint on an otherwise dynamic Caps offense. Those three had the forwards’ worst possession (minus-2.1 percent worse when Beagle took shifts, 46.9 percent overall when the trio was on the ice), but somehow they stayed close to even in goals.
They also combined for a minus-15 penalty differential, and it’s not all the fault of Beagle’s linemates: 2015-16 saw Beagle’s highest penalty total as pro.
I’m being overly harsh. Truly, Jay Beagle didn’t hurt the Caps in 2015-16. His on-ice goal differential was neutral, he killed penalties, he won faceoffs (58.1 percent, though it doesn’t matter much), and he did better apart from Wilson and Chimera (52-53 percent possession). If anything, Beagle is an opportunity cost: what did the Caps forego by icing a “stay-at-home forward” in their top nine?
It seems to me like Jay Beagle and the Washington Capitals are headed down two different paths. Beagle’s primary skill is in grinding the game pace down to a crawl, and everything I’ve heard from the front office says the team is ready to fly.
Beagle’s contract and its $1.75 million cap hit will last through 2018. That’s a hefty sum for a player who has just been relegated by managerial fiat to the fourth line. Something’s gonna give, but I’ve learned by now never to doubt Beags.
What do you think Jay Beagle’s role will be in the next two seasons? Will BMac blink and sanction more third line work for Beagle? And if Beagle will be a fourth line player from here on out, how can he maximize his value?
Read more: Japers Rink
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