After a decade in the Capitals organization, fan favorite Jay Beagle is moving on, just three weeks after helping Washington to its first Stanley Cup championship.
Beagle inked a four-year free agent deal with the Canucks on Sunday.
The annual average value of the deal is $3 million. The fourth-line center earned $1.75 million with the Caps last season.
Shortly after the deal with Vancouver was announced, Beagle said on a conference call that the Caps had informed him in recent days that they could not compete with the other teams bidding for his services.
“We waited, obviously, quite a while,” Beagle said. “And then when teams started the reaching out, [Caps GM Brian MacLellan] had called my agent and said that we’re just not going to be there, that the Caps aren’t going to be there. So we kinda left it at that.”
Beagle added that he planned to call MacLellan later Sunday to thank him for the opportunity he received in D.C.
As much as it will pain some fans to see ‘Beags’ suit up for another team, it was the right move for the player and for the Caps.
For Beagle, who turns 33 in October, the security of a four-year deal plus a guaranteed $12 million in salary was too much to pass up. The move also brings him back to Western Canada, which he also acknowledged was a factor. He’s from Calgary and spends his summers there.
For the Caps, losing Beagle subtracts a veteran presence and leader from the locker room. It also takes away one of the NHL’s top faceoff specialists and penalty killers from the Cup-winning roster. (He ranked fourth in faceoffs, winning 58.5-percent.)
That said, there were also a handful of reasons MacLellan had to let Beagle walk. The biggest one relates to cap management. Put simply, they needed the space to dole out raises to John Carlson, Michal Kempny, Devante Smith-Pelly and, eventually, Tom Wilson.
As far as finding a replacement for Beagle, MacLellan didn’t waste much time. Just a few minutes into free agency, he signed 28-year-old Nic Dowd to a one year deal. He also re-signed prospect Travis Boyd, another bottom six center.
The Canucks, meanwhile, are excited to add Beagle’s experience and versatility as they look to reload.
“Jay is a detailed player with championship experience, who can handle a big defensive workload,” Vancouver GM Jim Benning said in a statement. “He’s grown and developed is game with a core group of players and won at every level of pro hockey. We’re excited to add a player with his caliber of character and experience to our team.”
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