Photo Credit: Geoff Burke - USA TODAY Sports

It’s Official; Canucks Sign Jay Beagle to a Four-Year Contract

Sometimes, the best contracts are the ones that one doesn’t sign. That truism is especially prescient on July 1st when a new league year begins and with it comes the dawn of free agency.

The Canucks, it seems, couldn’t resist the temptation, though. They’ve signed unrestricted free agent centre Jay Beagle to a four-year, $12-million contract, valued at $3-million annually.

It’s hardly surprising that the Canucks and Beagle came to terms. Sportsnet 650’s Rick Dhaliwal reported the Canucks interest in signing Beagle on June 15th. In the week ahead of free agency, when teams and players are allowed to have preliminary contract discussions without talking term and cash value (though nobody seems to play by those rules), Dhaliwal followed up on those reports, suggesting the two sides were discussing the framework for a contract.

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The original figures that Dhaliwal put forth suggested a framework was in place for a three-year contract for $7.5-million, with a cap hit of $2.5-million annually. That was on Friday. In the time since, the competition had driven the term, and apparently the cap hit, from that position. The Canucks, undeterred, didn’t balk.

For better or worse, when the Canucks have wanted a player in the Jim Benning era, they’ve stopped at nothing to get that player. Count Beagle’s contract among the many examples.

This contract seems like one of their more ill-advised bets in that vein, though. Beagle, 32, turns 33-years-old in October — he’ll be 37 at the expiration of this deal. For someone who’s already a fourth-line centre, and one of dubious quality at that, there isn’t much room for his play to fall off before he’s sub-replacement level. Knowing what we do about how players age, that’s the most likely outcome — especially given Beagle’s rough-and-tumble style.

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It’s not really a question of whether Beagle will add value to the Canucks’ lineup. He’s a fine NHL player, who just centred a fourth-line on a Stanley Cup-winning team. Beagle can kill penalties, win faceoffs and has those intangibles that the Canucks so covet.

If the Canucks signed Beagle to the two-year contract valued at $1.5-million that Hockey-Graphs Editor Matt Cane’s highly-predictive model suggested he would (or should) get, that would be perfectly acceptable — even if it’s not the course of action I would suggest.

Instead, the Canucks have one of the most expensive fourth-line centres in the NHL in Beagle. A player who won’t even be able to carry-on in that role until the expiration of this contract. It’s a needless risk for a contract that, even in the best-case scenario, won’t provide a significant return on investment.

The list of NHL regulars last season who enjoyed a lower ratio of shot control at 5-on-5 than Beagle is a short one — there’s no one on it. Beagle is about a 20-point producer per 82 games, coming off of a 22-point season, and when he was on the ice for the Capitals last season, they scored a grim 1.75 goals per hour.

If not for the additional context of the brutally difficult minutes that then-Capitals head coach Barry Trotz played Beagle in, it would be hard to even view him as an NHL-quality player.

The hope is that Beagle’s play won’t deteriorate any further and that playing on a team with Brandon Sutter will mean that he won’t be thrown to the wolves by his coaching staff on a shift-by-shift basis. In that scenario, he might be of some use to the Canucks in years three and four of his contract. That’s the hope, anyway.

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  • ColdOne

    Sigh. You had one job …

    Actually, Canucks management had three obvious needs to address:

    1. Improve goaltending
    2. Improve scoring
    3. Improve defence

    So, of course they spend more than they even wasted on Loui Eriksson to bring grit and intangibles to the Canucks.

    But, you know what the deal with intangibles is? They doesn’t win hockey games!!!! Tangibles do. Scoring goals. Getting assists. The plethora of advanced statistics available to us which demonstrate that over the long term the puck will go into the other guy’s net more than into our net when a player is on the ice.

    Adding a bunch of fourth liners who can’t score, and have low career ceilings does not address any of the Canucks fundamental needs.

    Worse, it will keep younger talent with higher ceilings off the team for 3-4 years.

    The Canucks would have been literally better off if I had locked Jim Benning and Trevor Linden in my basement for a week and then taked their entire UFA budget and thrown it away on an epic bender of strippers and blow.

    Then, at least the strippers in this town would have been happy. As things currently stand, noone will be happy with these signings in two years time.

    • Bud Poile

      Canucks management had one stated goal-protect their talented young players.
      They’ve done just that.
      After another top-five draft where the Canucks get another elite prospect -or two- Gadjovich,Woo,Virtanen and all have been shown how to protect their mates.
      The soft as butter Canucks skilled players have their backs covered.Now go out and do your friggin’ jobs.

  • Jim Benning should not be allowed to sign players on July 1st, period.

    Why does Benning seem so compelled to overpay for mediocre players? It’s bizarre and frustrating. It’s always one step forward two steps back with this management group.

    • DogBreath

      Don’t Like length and term of these signings either. Fact is Canucks aren’t a destination that players want to go to. This is what teams who finish near the bottom of the standings need to do to attract talent / leadership. Hopefully they can trade the 4th year of the contracts.

      • Vancouver was and can be again a place free agents want to sign. You don’t get back to that by paying double market value for marginal players. All three of the contracts signed today were literally *double* what these players are worth.

  • Dissin_Terry

    Demote Benning to scouting. He’s unable to learn from his mistakes, and, quite frankly, already isn’t an especially intelligent human being. I’d say it’s getting embarrassing, but we are so far past that now, it’s actually just sad.

    • Bud Poile

      The same sentiments ring true for me of JD.
      Thankfully I listen to a variety of professional,unbiased commentaries on radio so I get a balanced perspective on management.

  • Dirk22

    These deals really arent surprising at all. They’re par for the course with this management group who have been doing this for 4 years. We’re really only a few months away from the 3 year/$12 mill extension for Gudbranson. Sometimes you want to think they’ve turned a corner but really we should know better by now.

    The most amazing part to me is people will see these deals today (4 years for a 33 year old 4th line center!), agree they are brutal, and will still defend Lindenning. I don’t care how bad Bergevin or Chiarelli have been, Benning is back on top as the worst GM in the league. Congrats.

    • Peachy

      If it was the whole “you win with players” like this, I would have much preferred 6M / year over two years.

      For Og’s sake don’t handcuff this team when it might actually be competitive in three years.

  • Bud Poile

    I’ve been reading up on Beagle and he’s a consummate professional and one of the best face off men in the NHL.
    In a couple of years they trade him at the deadline or this frees up Sutter for trade.
    The Canucks players sat and watched as Boeser’s career was nearly cut short.They were softer than butter.
    Free up the skilled players to play,protect them, and provide a hard-working environment.

      • Bud Poile

        I played some high level hockey.
        The gate opens a hundred times per night.
        I never saw any player hit their opponent into a gate.
        Not once.
        Your franchise player,Calder candidate,the team’s future is thrown like a rag doll into an open door and you’re ok with it.

        • LTFan

          IMO it was a freak accident, Boeser tried to hit Clutterbuck but came out 2nd best and hit the open bench door. No one is okay with it but it was not a dirty play by Clutterbuck.

    • tyhee

      What is there about Beagle’s 16 penalty minutes last season or his 159 penalty minutes in 471 career games to indicate he’ll help the Canucks no longer be soft as butter or that he’ll be someone that the other teams worry about when beating up on Canucks’ skill players?

      • Bud Poile

        Beagle was the fourth best face off man in the NHL.That’s a big part of why he was signed.Penalty killer.Allows Sutter to be traded.Center depth on a team that caved in last year after Sutter and Bo were injured.
        Pay attention now.
        Roussel will fight and he kills penalties.
        Schaller will fight and he kills penalties.
        The team got tougher and the PK got better today and now the kids now have protection.

  • Locust

    This doesn’t bother me. Need some leadership and mentorship. This isn’t a ‘stats’ chart it is a ‘team’ and if we are going to be Stanley Cup material we need to be moving in a positive direction. The CA clowns and ‘tankers’ have no idea what it takes. Beagle can be moved in his third year for a good prospect or pick and his contract will be a bargain by then.

    Glad to see we wont do an Edmonton and turn a whole room full of guys into sadsack losers. No one that has played or understands hockey at an advanced level will have a huge problem with this.

  • TheRealPB

    I wish FA day didn’t follow the draft so closely so that I didn’t have to follow the excitement of all the young prospects with feeling disappointed with overpays on free agents. Beagle is ok, but the other two seem serious overpays. If the plan is to properly season the young prospects in Utica and not put them in the midst of the tire fire I guess that might make sense but I think I’d rather see what either Goldobin or Boucher could do in a regular role alongside Horvat-Boeser-Baertschi, Gagner-Sutter-Eriksson and Leipsic-Virtanen on the top lines, and Motte, Granlund, Sutter, Gaunce to figure out the fourth. I don’t have a problem with displacing Motte and Gaunce I guess, but they seem like cheaper versions of the ones we just paid millions for (without the faceoffs, but that’s overrated).

    Last year’s FA splash didn’t end up all that well either, but Wiercoch, MDZ, Vanek, Burmistrov, and Gagner are either gone or on limited remaining time. I don’t hold Benning responsible for inheriting a poor prospect pool or boat anchor contracts, but the kind of disastrous evaluation of pro talent (extending to the reads on Gudbranson, Sutter, Sbisa, Dorsett, etc) is all on him.

  • Dirty30

    What must Tanev be thinking? He gets paid a little more for being a top Dman on this team than a plug centring the fourth line.

    I really believed that with drafting Hughesvthis team would be moving toward developing skill and speed. Instead, JB drafts slow, old, plodders who will set development back another five years.

  • North Van Halen

    Just wow. I kept hoping these contracts were just rumours….These are the 2 worst deals signed today so far…$6.5mil/yr for 4 years for 13 goals?!?!
    I don’t see how these contracts won’t be bought out or buried in the minors 3 years form now. Putrid. Throw Ericksson on their line and we can have a $12.5 mil fourth line for the next 4 years. Benning & Linden sure make it hard to keep supporting them.

  • kermit

    I don’t understand their thinking. Is this another way to “weaponize” the cap? Sign players to above market contracts so they can move them up and down from Utica with no fear of anyone picking them off waviers?

  • browncoat

    Sigh… Between Beagle and Rousell, that’s 6 million for two 3rd and 4th liners. Then there is Sutter’s contact. Awful lot of money for character over goals

    • Killer Marmot

      I have no problem with Sutter. The aim of the game is not to get a lot of goals, but to get more goals than the opposition. Sutter earns his keep.

      This contract, however, does not thrill me.

  • Nuck16

    I’m somewhat indifferent on Beagle and Roussel signings..and I’ll give JB the benefit of the doubt for now. By signing these role player types it allows them to focus on drafting and developing high upside offensive forwards and dmen, plus they’re now less likely to make trades for such players in exchange for draft picks and/or prospects. Plus we really shouldn’t have any cap problems over the next few seasons anyway and if we do we can always buy out Beagle’s last year…

  • Grizz

    I get the angst but for a moment….. the Canucks have cap space and short of a dman the spending is done. They had to protect the skill thats coming. They did not need to spend on scoring and none of the signings block the top 6 scoring mins that the kids need. I’d rather this then signings that block the kids mins and these contracts do not do that. Most importantly they need to make some trades to reshape the rest of the line up

  • Missing Luuuu

    Beagle is ok. Bring in someone who is professional and can teach the young guys what takes to win a cup. Four years doesn’t bug me either, I think he will play for 2 or 3 before he gets put on waivers. Not too sure about the other 2 signings.