The Washington Capitals committed $67.25 million to two now former Pittsburgh Penguins defensemen on Tuesday. First, new general manager gave Brooks Orpik a 5-year, $27.5 million deal. Now, they've inked one of the highest-sought-after players on the market, Matt Niskanen.
The Capitals announced late Tuesday afternoon that a seven-year, $40.25 million deal would be luring Niskanen to D.C., hours after the defenseman slowly whittled down his list as his agent, Neil Sheehy, gave updates on Twitter.
"I had a few options," Niskanen told Sportsnet. "A few teams that were tough to say no to. I like Washington, first of all, because I think that team is hungry to win. I like their forward group and I think with me and [Orpik] going there now we're going to have a really good back-end as well."
Niskanen said that he and Orpik spoke on Monday, but them both signing in Washington wasn't a planned thing.
Arriving in 2011 as part of the deal that brought James Neal to Pittsburgh, Niskanen slowly blossomed with the Penguins and in his walk-year, posted a career high 10 goals and 46 points, setting himself up for this nice payday.
From the Capitals:
“We are very excited that Matt Niskanen has chosen to sign with Washington,” said MacLellan. “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.”
During last week's free agent interview period, Niskanen said he spoke with both new Capitals assistant coach Todd Reirden, who was with him in Pittsburgh, as well as the team's new general manager, Brian MacLellan. "Just seemed like a really good fit for me to continue to get better in my career," he said.
With Orpik and Niskanen on board, that leaves Washington with just over $1 million in cap space, according to CapGeek. It also leaves many questioning the future of Mike Green on the Capitals' blue line. He has one year left and a $6.25 million in salary coming his way in 2014-15. Will he be in their lineup come opening night?
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