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Key Caps questions: How much will the loss of Jay Beagle impact the Capitals?

Key Caps questions: How much will the loss of Jay Beagle impact the Capitals?

The dog days of summer are officially here, but it's never too hot to talk some hockey.

Capitals Insider Tarik El-Bashir and Capitals correspondent JJ Regan are here to help you through the offseason doldrums. They will discuss key questions facing the Caps for the upcoming season as Washington prepares to defend its title for the first time in franchise history.

Today's question: How much will the loss of Jay Beagle impact the team?

Tarik: Jay Beagle’s absence will be felt in a number of areas. Among the most obvious ones:

  • On draws, where he boasted the fourth best faceoff win percentage (58.5) in the NHL last season. When the Caps absolutely needed to win a D-zone draw in recent years, Beags was the guy and he often delivered.
  • On the penalty kill, where he accrued more shorthanded ice time per game than any other Caps’ forward by nearly 45 seconds. The coaches’ trusted Beagle to win draws, make the right read and, when necessary, eat a point blast. It’s not a glorious job, but it’s one Beagle embraced.
  • Off the ice, where his folksy charm made him extremely popular among his teammates, fans and the media. Beagle is a self-made man, having taken the circuitous route to a full-time NHL job, and his work ethic is contagious.

All that said, letting him walk was absolutely the decision that had to be made when you factor in the big raises due to John Carlson, Tom Wilson and Michal Kempny and the smaller salary bumps required for Devante Smith-Pelly, Madison Bowey and Travis Boyd.

Beagle, who turns 33 in October, ended up signing in Vancouver, where he’ll earn $3 million per over the next four years. That math simply wasn’t doable in Washington given the team’s star-laden lineup and the fourth line role he plays.

To overcome Beagle’s loss, the Caps’ centers, as a collective, will need to step up their efficiency in the faceoff circle as there likely won’t be a go-to in critical situations next season. Meanwhile, Wilson, Lars Eller, Chandler Stephenson and others will need to fill the void on the penalty kill.

My prediction? Losing Beags is going to hurt a bit, particularly early on as the bottom-six and penalty kill roles get sorted out. But, by midseason, a younger, cheaper, more offensive-minded option (think: Boyd, Stephenson or Nic Dowd) will be making his mark as the fourth line pivot.

JJ: Beagle may be a fourth line center, but one aspect of his game in which he was among the best in the league was the face-off. Tarik quoted the stats above, but he finished fourth in the NHL winning 58.5-percent of the draws he took. The Caps are going to miss that aspect of his game dearly.

Lars Eller (49.3) and Evgeny Kuznetsov (44.2) both finished with win percentages below .500. Backstrom had a winning percentage, but with only 51.2-percent, there's no clear go-to guy on the face-off anymore.

When you go back and watch last season, Beagle was taking almost every critical draw. He would even start 3-on-3 overtime and quickly make his way to the bench after winning possession.

Face-offs are a critical aspect of the game and if the Caps cannot get possession of the puck at critical moments, that is going to cost them some points this season.

From a personal level, Beagle was a joy in the locker room for both teammates and media alike. For several years now you always hear the players talk about how much they love playing with this team, how much the players enjoy being around one another. Beagle was a big part of that.

Beagle was not shy on breakdown day about his desire to stay in Washington, but when you see what he ultimately signed for in Vancouver there's no question the Caps made the right move in letting him go. The Caps have only about $1 million left under the cap ceiling. Had Washington kept Beagle, one would assume the team would not have signed Nic Dowd. If you add Dowd's $650k back to the cap, that's still less than $2 million of cap space to work with. Beagle's new deal is worth $3 million per year.

Who would you be willing to lose to keep Beagle? That's a really tough question to answer.

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Tom Wilson thanks healthcare workers, reflects on Caps' season in Instagram post

Tom Wilson thanks healthcare workers, reflects on Caps' season in Instagram post

Saturday, April 5, was supposed to be the Capitals 2019-20 regular season finale.

But due to the coronavirus pandemic, the NHL has been suspended since mid-March. There's nothing but uncertainty ahead.

For Capitals forward Tom Wilson, being at home on Saturday night instead of taking the ice for the team's season finale resonated with him. Wilson took to Instagram to post a reflective photo, calling it a privilege to wear the Capitals uniform and thanking everyone that is doing a part to help combat the spread of the virus.

"Feels weird to think our last regular season game would have been played last night," Wilson wrote. "With the future uncertain, it is sometimes nice to reflect. It is a privilege to wear this jersey every night we play. I hope everyone is staying safe and thank you to everyone who is working so hard to keep us safe."

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Wilson has been using his unexpected off time to give back to the community. Earlier this week, Wilson delivered an inspirational message and sent gifts to Make-A-Wish Mid-Atlantic to help children going through unforeseen changes due to the pandemic.

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Watch T.J. Oshie teach his daughter Lyla how to ride a bike

Watch T.J. Oshie teach his daughter Lyla how to ride a bike

Despite the circumstances, the past few weeks have been an exciting time for the Oshie family.

Just over two weeks ago, Capitals forward T.J. Oshie and his wife, Lauren, welcomed their third child into the world, Campbell.

But on Sunday, it was the couple's oldest child, Lyla, that stole the show.

Lyla, who just turned six last month, accomplished something that she will remember for years to come: learning how to ride a bike.  

How adorable is that?

As Lyla bikes up the driveway, T.J. is a step behind her, making sure she doesn't fall. The Caps winger had an ear-to-ear grin on his face, such a proud dad.

With the NHL season on pause due to the coronavirus pandemic, hopefully more Papa Oshie content comes as a result.

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