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The 25 Most Important Players for the Caps: No. 15 Jay Beagle

The 25 Most Important Players for the Caps: No. 15 Jay Beagle

Every player on an NHL team plays a role.Some, of course, play bigger roles than others.

In the coming weeks, Tarik El-Bashir and JJ Regan will rank the 25 most important players in the Caps’ organization, from least to most important, weighing factors such as past production, future potential and intangibles.

Today's player: No. 15 Jay Beagle

The Capitals have holes on their roster on defense and for bottom six wingers, but if there is one position in which there are no questions, it’s center. Washington returns all four centers from last season including today’s player, Jay Beagle.

Beagle set career highs last season in goals (13), assists (17) and points (30) after 81 games played, another personal best. That production evaporated in the playoffs where he was held without a point in 13 games, but Beagle’s true value does not stem from his offensive production.

The first step towards establishing possession is winning the faceoff. Overall, the Caps are a middle of the pack faceoff team, finishing 16th in the NHL last year. That number would plummet without Beagle.

RELATED: CAPITALS FACEOFF PODCAST: A SLIM OVECHKIN RETURNS TO WASHINGTON

Beagle led the team last season with a faceoff win percentage of 56.4-percent, tied for the 12th best in the NHL among players who took 100 faceoffs or more. More importantly, he was the only center on the team with a positive faceoff percentage in the defensive zone (56.8-percent) and shorthanded (55.7-percent). Winning a shorthanded draw is the difference between instant power play pressure from the opposition and an easy zone clear. His skill in the faceoff circle was so pronounced, it led to head coach Barry Trotz utilizing him in situations you don’t normally see him, such as to start overtime.

Outside of the faceoff circle, Beagle is one of the team’s key penalty killers. His 223:51 of shorthanded ice time last season was good for third among all forwards in the NHL.

Beagle can expect more of the same in terms of his on the ice role for the upcoming season. He will be the fourth line center, a key piece of the penalty kill and he can expect to take the majority of the key faceoffs in a game.

But now you can also add mentor to that role.

Gone are last season’s linemates Daniel Winnik and Tom Wilson. Winnik has not been resigned by the team and Wilson seems likely headed up the depth chart after an impressive playoff performance. That means the 31-year-old Beagle will likely find himself playing alongside at least one prospect every given night, sometimes two, in what could very well be a revolving door on the fourth line.

Beagle will not only have to adapt to new linemates in October, he may have to adapt to new linemates frequently throughout the season which is a tricky proposition for a line that sees the majority of its minutes in the defensive zone. The Caps cannot afford too many growing pains from the bottom three and Beagle will be tasked with keeping the fourth line honest. That also makes it critical that he remains healthy.

Beagle’s 81 games last season shattered his previous career high of 62. The Capitals are no longer dealing with the same kind of depth they have enjoyed in previous seasons and there are no easy solutions for just how the team would replace him in the lineup

 He may be a fourth line player, but if the Caps lose Beagle for 20 games due to injury you will quickly see just how important he really is.

Check out the full list of the Caps most important players as it comes out here and check out previous player profiles below.

— No. 25 Aaron Ness
— No. 24 Chandler Stephenson
— No. 23 Riley Barber
— No. 22 Pheonix Copley
— No. 21 Devante Smith-Pelly
— No. 20 Taylor Chorney
— No. 19 Nathan Walker
— No. 18 Philipp Grubauer
— No. 17 Christian Djoos
— No. 16 Madison Bowey

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Caps cut an additional nine players, but keep all four goalies in the midst of fierce competition for backup role

Caps cut an additional nine players, but keep all four goalies in the midst of fierce competition for backup role

The Capitals reassigned nine players from its roster to the Hershey Bears on Sunday, sending Kristofers Bindulis, Tobias Geisser, Connor Hobbs, Axel Jonsson-Fjallby, Brett Leason, Philippe Maillet, Bobby Nardella, Garrett Pilon and Joe Snively to its AHL affiliate.

Training camp for Hershey begins on Monday making Sunday a convenient time to update the roster.

The latest round of cuts contains no major surprises. Jonsson-Fjallby is likely the most NHL ready of the group, but after returning to Sweden he is not quite used to the North American game as he needs to be. After a disappointing showing in the Prospects Showcase and in training camp, he now finds himself headed to Hershey. He has committed to remaining in North America this season regardless of where he plays and given the Caps’ salary cap constraints and depth, he will likely spend most if not all of the 2019-20 season in the AHL.

Leason was a second-round draft pick by Washington in 2019 and scored a goal in Saturday’s preseason contest. As a 20-year-old, however, he is headed to Hershey instead of to a junior team.

The Caps elected to keep both rookie netminders Vitek Vanecek and Ilya Samsonov which will leave the Bears a bit shorthanded as camp opens. Both goalies are competing with Pheonix Copley for the backup role behind Braden Holtby this season.

The Caps are expected to make additional cuts prior to their preseason road trip beginning Wednesday in Chicago.

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3 players who stood out in playoff rematch against the Hurricanes: Samsonov gets the full game and the win

3 players who stood out in playoff rematch against the Hurricanes: Samsonov gets the full game and the win

WASHINGTON -- In a reversal of last season’s playoff, the Capitals dominant forecheck suffocated the Carolina Hurricanes for much of the game on Friday in a 3-2 preseason win. The game was the final preseason game in Washington as the Caps’ three remaining contests all will come on the road.

Here are three players who impressed in the home preseason finale.

Ilya Samsonov

Samsonov faced only 15 shots from a clearly outmatched Hurricanes roster, but he looked impressive in the few times he was tested. The save of the night came in the second period when he denied Julien Gauthier on a breakaway.

Gauthier attempted the old Peter Forsberg move and skated to his right while trying to craftily tuck the puck in to the left. Samsonov slid with Gauthier, but stuck out his stick to deny the shot and make the tremendous save.

Samsonov continued to demonstrate his comfort playing the puck with his stick as he also denied a scoring opportunity with a well-timed poke check and was always quick to play the puck when it came behind the goal line.

One area in which he was not comfortable was the glove. There were multiple occasions in which he was able to get a glove on the puck, but was not able to catch it creating dangerous opportunities for Carolina’s offense.

The Hurricanes managed only seven shots on goal through the first two periods, but managed some more pressure in the third. The shutout bid was ended in the third when Brock McGinn followed up his own rebound to score Carolina’s first goal of the game. The second goal came on a fluky bounce off the backboards that Janne Kuokkanen was able to whack behind Samsonov before he could get a glove to it.

While Todd Reirden likely hoped Samsonov would be more tested than he was, he was up to the task with 13 saves.

Brian Pinho

The Caps recorded three goals on the night and Pinho had two of them.  In the first period, Axel Jonsson-Fjallby created a turnover on the forecheck. Feeling the pressure, Fredrik Claesson tried a hopeful clear that was cut off at the blue line by Pinho who skated in and tucked the puck through the 5-hole of goalie Anton Forsberg. He scored again in the third period on the power play when his shot deflected off of Jake Bean and took a favorable bounce up before dropping into the net.

Pinho led the Capitals with five points in three games at the 2019 Prospect Showcase, but at 24 years old, he would be expected to play well. He faced slightly better competition on Saturday and still was able to produce with two goals on the night.

Richard Panik

One of the newest Caps, Panik has looked extremely comfortable in both of his preseason games thus far. He was again strong on the penalty kill where he logged 1:35 of ice time. He also looked strong offensively.

Panik played very heavy below the goal line which suits the Caps’ offensive cycle the team likes to utilize. He also showed good vision as, in the third period, he was able to fight off a check and literally kicked the puck out to a wide-open Tavis Boyd in the slot.

With Panik and Carl Hagelin together, the Caps should have a much more formidable penalty kill this season.

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