Jay Beagle isn’t exactly a household name in the NHL, but now he’s Alex Ovechkin’s new first line center. At least according to what coach Adam Oates has done in practice recently that is.
As Katie Carrera of The Washington Post shares, injuries to Brooks Laich and Mikhail Grabovski are forcing Oates to make some moves, and moving Beagle up to the top line is a curious one, but an opportunity he’s looking to take advantage of.
“It’s obviously what every player wants. I want to take this opportunity and I want to run with it,” Beagle said. “You want to do the best you can not only for yourself , but for your team. We’re making a playoff push every point is so important, everyone is important.”
For the record, Beagle has two goals and seven points this season and has been mostly a fourth line center averaging 10:29 of ice time.
The playoff push is the thing here (they’re two points behind the New York Rangers for the second wild card) and Beagle getting top line duty isn’t the only curious move. Check out the lines they used in practice yesterday.
Nicklas Backstrom working with Evgeny Kuznetsov and Troy Brouwer seems like a way to balance out scoring amongst the top lines, but what’s up with Dustin Penner on the fourth line?
We’ve seen him demoted like this before with the Los Angeles Kings, but when he was picked up by the Caps at the trade deadline it was expected he’d be the left wing on Ovechkin’s line. Now he’s riding with AHL call-up Casey Wellman and rookie Tom Wilson.
If the moves work and the Caps come away with wins against L.A. and Anaheim, Oates will look like a genius. If not, this starts to look like a throwback to when Dale Hunter was running the show.
A handful of callups and send-downs this afternoon…
Columbus recalls Goloubef
The Blue Jackets called up defenseman Cody Goloubef from the AHL under emergency conditions. Goloubef has six goals and 20 points for the Springfield Falcons this season.
Stars send down Jeffrey
Dustin Jeffrey’s week got a bit tougher after the Stars sent him to AHL Texas. Jeffery was placed on waivers earlier this week and went unclaimed. Now he’ll look to find his game in Austin with the Texas Stars.
Devils demote Whitney
Here’s to hoping Joe Whitney enjoyed his NHL debut with the Devils. The team announced they’ve sent Whitney down to AHL Albany today. Whitney, 25, got his start on a line with Travis Zajac and Jaromir Jagr and finished the game with no points and 8:00 of ice time.
Capitals recall Wellman, send down Schmidt
The Capitals recalled center Casey Wellman from Hershey and sent defenseman Nate Schmidt down to make room for him. Wellman has some NHL experience already and could be getting the call because of the injury to Mikhail Grabovski against Montreal last night. A rough situation just gets more difficult in D.C. if Grabovski is hurt long-term.
A handful of minor moves went down this afternoon. Here’s our roundup of what went down.
Rangers trade Casey Wellman to Florida
The Rangers added another late-round draft pick by dealing Casey Wellman to Florida for a 2014 fifth-round pick. Wellman was picked up by New York last season from the Minnesota Wild and saw just 14 games of NHL action with the Wild. He spent the remainder of the season with the Connecticut Whale in the AHL after being acquired on February 3. Expect Wellman to get a shot to crack the Panthers roster in camp.
Hurricanes re-sign Samson
Carolina re-upped with occasional NHL forward Jerome Samson on a one-year, two-way deal. Should Samson stick in the NHL, the contract will pay him $600,000 for the year. In just 16 games with Carolina last season, he scored two goals and had three assists. While he hasn’t made his mark in the NHL, he’s been a consistent scorer in the AHL notching 20 or more goals in five straight seasons.
The Minnesota Wild just became a shootout powerhouse, acquiring forward Erik Christensen in a trade with the New York Rangers.
The Wild also received a conditional seventh-round draft pick, sending forward Casey Wellman to New York in return.
Christensen, 28, has appeared in just 20 games for the Rangers. He recently spent two weeks in the AHL on a conditioning stint. The 2002 Penguins draft pick (69th overall) is perhaps best known for his shootout prowess, scoring 24 times on 46 career attempts (52.2%). Only eight players have more shootout goals than Christensen.
Wellman, 24, will reportedly be assigned to the Rangers’ AHL team in Connecticut.
From Mike Russo of the Minnesota Star-Tribune:
For those unfamiliar with Peters (read: Everybody not in his extended family), here’s the skinny:
— 29 years old.
— 62 games of NHL experience.
— 90 games of ECHL experience.
— 472 games of AHL experience.
— Has played for the Portland Pirates, Utah Grizzles, Idaho Steelheads, Omaha Ak-Sar-Ben Knights, Quad City Flames, Texas Stars and Houston Aeros.
— Now centering Dany Heatley and Devin Setoguchi on the Wild’s top line.
Peters is one of four current Wild forwards that began the year in AHL Houston (the others are Casey Wellman, David McIntyre and Carson McMillan), which tells you how badly injuries have ravaged the team. Mikko Koivu, Pierre-Marc Bouchard, Guillaume Latendresse and Jarod Palmer are all on injured reserve.
Peters and Co. aren’t the only temporary, minor-league stopgaps the Wild have used this year. Unforgettable names like Jeff Taffe, Cody Almond, Jed Ortmeyer, Kris Fredheim and Jon DiSalvatore have all played with the big club this season, though none of them ever got to play first-line center.