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Capitals sign center Beagle to three-year contract

by Kristen Nelson

Forward Jay Beagle could have re-signed with the Washington Capitals a little sooner had he not been riding around the mountains of Alberta in a motor home.

When he finally received cell reception Monday after a day of missed calls from his agent, Beagle stopped in the nearest town outside of Calgary and signed a three-year, $5.25 million contract.

"I all of the sudden had about five messages on my phone when I hit cell reception, so I figured I better stop and make sure that I get this thing done," Beagle said.

Beagle, 29, set career bests this season with 10 goals, 10 assists and 20 points in 62 games.

"We are pleased to re-sign Jay to a new three-year contract," general manager Brian MacLellan told the Capitals website. "Jay is a hard-working player who plays multiple positions and is an excellent faceoff man and penalty killer. Jay has improved steadily since joining our organization and has always brought his game to a different level in the playoffs."

Beagle could have become an unrestricted free agent Wednesday but had little interest leaving Washington. He said he was confident an agreement could be reached ever since his exit interview with MacLellan and coach Barry Trotz.

"They wanted me back; I wanted to be back," Beagle said. "It was just a matter of getting a deal done."

Beagle said a multiyear contract was most important to him and left everything else to his agent.

He said he will return to the ice in a few weeks to start working on stickhandling and faceoffs, as well as trying to catch the puck on his backhand like teammate Nicklas Backstrom. Beagle said expects to have a bigger role next season.

"I've always told people that my dream job is that third-line center position, that checking line center position," Beagle said. "… I'm happy to play anywhere. If [Trotz] needs me I'll play in any position. But if you ask me, that's my dream position and that's what I'm looking for coming into training camp."

The Capitals have several other pending unrestricted free agents who likely will find new teams; the agent for defenseman Mike Green and forward Eric Fehr told CSN Washington last week neither player would return next season.

Other unrestricted free agents are forwards Joel Ward and Curtis Glencross and defenseman Tim Gleason.

MacLellan said last week it is Washington's priority to re-sign goalie Braden Holtby and forwards Evgeny Kuznetsov and Marcus Johannson, all of whom will be restricted free agents if not signed by Wednesday.

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