The Washington Capitals spent a lot of money on former Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman on the first day of free agency Tuesday.
After adding physical 33-year-old defenseman Brooks Orpik on a surprisingly rich five-year, $27.5 million deal, the Capitals inked one of the most sought after free agents of the day, 27-year-old defenseman Matt Niskanen, to a seven-year deal worth $40.25 million.
"We are very excited that Matt Niskanen has chosen to sign with Washington," Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan said. "At 27 years of age, he is just entering his prime for a defenseman. We feel he will be a staple on our blueline for many years to come. We have stated all along that upgrading the defense was our top priority this offseason and we feel we accomplished our goal with our signings today."
Niskanen, the top scorer among available defensemen with 46 points, including a career-high 10 goals in 81 games this past season, had a solid all-around season, including nine points in 13 games postseason games for the Penguins this year. The eight-year veteran has 167 points in 491 career NHL games.
Orpik leaves Pittsburgh after spending his entire career with the Penguins. as a first-round draft pick in 2000. In 703 career games for Pittsburgh, he had 13 goals, 119 assists and 734 penalty minutes.
"We feel Brooks' leadership and experience will greatly enhance our defense for years to come," MacLellan said. "Brooks plays tough minutes against the opposition's best players."
The Capitals also signed goaltender Justin Peters to a two-year, $1.9 million contract and right winger Chris Conner to a one-year, two-way contract.
The 27-year-old Peters spent last season with the Carolina Hurricanes and had a 7-9-4 record with a 2.50 goals-against average and a .919 save percentage. Conner, 30, registered 50 points (22 goals, 28 assists) and 34 penalty minutes in 178 career NHL games with Pittsburgh, Phoenix, Detroit and Dallas.