Jay Beagle is a back-woods, no-frills kind of guy, so it should come as no surprise that the 29-year-old center was in a motor home, vacationing with his family in the Alberta mountains, with no cell service, when his agent, Wade Arnott, tried reaching him to get final approval on a three-year $5.25 million contract with the Capitals.
“I had missed my agent’s calls for almost a day, where he had left me four or five messages leading up to this,” Beagle said Monday on a conference call with reporters. “I also had about five messages on my phone when I got cell reception, so I figured I’d better stop and get this thing done.”
Beagle and his family stopped at a kiosk in the town of Canmore, Alberta, where he printed out an email, signed it, and faxed his acceptance back to Arnott and the Capitals.
Beagle will make $1.45 million next season, along with a $300,000 bonus, and $1.75 million for each of the final two years of the deal, giving him a palatable cap hit of $1.75 million. He said getting the third year of the deal was the most important piece to him.
“One of the things I said to [Arnott] is I’d love to have more years than anything,” Beagle said. “My wife loves it there and I have a kid now. We love it there and I want to stay there as long as I can. I just told him years are important and just left it at that.”
Beagle’s signing leaves the Caps with roughly $18.5 million in cap space. Much of that will go toward contracts for restricted free agents Braden Holtby, Marcus Johansson and Evgeny Kuznetsov, who together figure to eat up in the neighborhood of $12 million.
MORE CAPITALS: Could Wey's retirement at 24 been avoided?
What Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan does with the remaining $6.5 million remains to be seen, but it appears none of it will go toward unrestricted free agents Mike Green, Joel Ward and Eric Fehr, who plan on testing the free-agent market at noon on Wednesday.
Beagle, who was also a pending UFA, has spent parts of seven seasons with Green, parts of six seasons with Fehr and the past four seasons with Ward.
“It’s always tough,” Beagle said. “You kind of forget that it is a business until something like this does happen. That’s why I’m very blessed to be back with this organization.
“I obviously want all the guys to come back. I’ve had such great relationships with them and fought alongside them and battled with them. It’s always tough when guys move on and you see them in another jersey. That makes me put in perspective how lucky and how fortunate I am to come back to this organization.”
If the Caps are unable to re-sign Fehr, Beagle could inherit his role as the Caps third-line center. Coming off a career-high 10 goals and 10 assists, Beagle said that’s been his dream job since he first turned pro.
“My goal for next year is to have a bigger role on the team and get better and win the Stanley Cup with this team,” Beagle said.
“I don’t really see myself as a fourth-line guy. As an athlete and as a professional hockey player I want to get better every year and have a bigger role every year. I think that’s what makes a team succeed, when everyone continues to get better and continues to have a bigger role.
“I think this last season I kind of showed I can play in all situations. If they need me on the fourth line, I’m definitely there. But I don’t see myself as a fourth-line guy. I’ve always told people my dream job is that checking-line center position.”
Physically, Beagle said he feels as strong as he ever has in his career and plans on spending this summer working on his puck-handling skills, faceoffs and his explosiveness.
“I want to come back into training camp looking better than I did last year,” he said.