As part of our summer countdown series, CSNwashington.com Capitals Insider Chuck Gormley breaks down his Top 25 impact players for the Washington Capitals’ upcoming 2014-15 season.
No. 23: Jay Beagle, Center
2014-15 NHL Salary: $1 million [$900,000 cap hit]
2013-14 stats: 62 games, 4 goals, 5 assists, 9 points, minus-9, 28 penalty minutes, 11:14 ice time
Projected 2014-15 stats: 36 games, 3 goals, 4 assists, 7 points, plus-2, 10 penalty minutes
Analysis: This will be a pivotal season for Beagle, who turns 29 in October and is entering the final year of his three-year contract with the Caps. Two years after playing meaningful minutes under Dale Hunter and one year after playing all 48 games under Adam Oates, Beagle’s role with the Capitals was all over the map last season. From being a healthy scratch through much of October and November to centering a top line with Alex Ovechkin in April, it was hard to get read on how the Caps feel about the 6-foot-3, 215-pound center. New Caps coach Barry Trotz will like Beagle’s shutdown abilities and his reliability in the defensive zone, but will that be enough for a player who has recorded just 27 points in 192 NHL games? The battle for the Caps’ fourth-line center role appears to come down to Beagle and Michael Latta, but if Brooks Laich returns healthy and Andre Burakovsky enters the mix as a potential center, it’s anyone’s guess where Beagle and Latta will fit in under Trotz.