Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Caps Sign Brooks Orpik, Justin Peters, and Matt Niskanen

"Brian MacLellan was promoted from assistant general manager to replace McPhee, while Barry Trotz was hired as the new coach. Washington also has added assistant coach Todd Reirden, who was hired by the Capitals after the Penguins fired him last week."
USA Today:
The Washington Capitals opened free agency Tuesday by signing defenseman Brooks Orpik to a $27.5 million, five-year contract, and goaltender Justin Peters to a $1.9 million, two-year contract.

The 33-year-old Orpik was originally a first-round draft pick (18th overall) in the 2000 NHL Entry Draft, Orpik has played 11 consecutive seasons for the Penguins.

The 6-foot-2, 219-pound Orpik has 13 goals, 119 assists and 734 penalty minutes in 703 career games.

Orpik ranks first among defensemen in Pittsburgh’s franchise history with 703 games played, fifth in penalty minutes (734) and ninth in assists (119).

He served as an alternate captain for the Penguins since 2008, and was named Penguins’ Defensive Player of the Year three times (2009-10, 10-11, 11-12), while winning the Players’ Player award four times (2010-11, 11-12, 12-13, 13-14), an award given to the player who best exemplifies leadership on and off the ice.

Peters made his NHL debut in February 2010, six years after being drafted in the second round by the Hurricanes.

The 27-year-old Peters went 7-9-4 with a 2.50 goals-against average and a .919 save percentage for the Carolina Hurricanes last season. He also played in six games for Charlotte of the AHL.

Listed at 6-foot-1, 210 pounds, Peters is very athletic and adept at handling the puck around his net, but has battled with inconsistency during his NHL career with a tendency to allow rebounds.

Pittsburgh's Matt Niskanen, the more offensive-minded of the pair of defensemen joining the Capitals, got a $40.25 million, seven-year contract, while center Michael Latta re-signed with a $1.15 million, two-year contract.

Niskanen, 27, led NHL defensemen with a plus-33 rating last season, when he set career highs with 10 goals and 36 assists. The 6-foot, 209-pound defenseman has 35 goals, 132 assists and 266 penalty minutes in 491 career NHL games for Pittsburgh and Dallas.

And in one more Penguins-to-Capitals transaction Tuesday, Washington signed right wing Chris Conner to a one-year, two-way contract. He has 22 goals and 28 assists in 178 NHL games, including 19 with Pittsburgh last season.

Going forward, MacLellan indicated he plans to keep defenseman Mike Green ("He had an OK year; we're hoping to get him back on track," he said) and would like to add another center.

Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan orchestrated his first NHL draft this weekend, fortifying the organization with, among others, 18-year-old Czech center Jakub Vrana (a player who models his game after Marian Gaborik), Vitek Vanecek (a goaltender they traded up to get), Nathan Walker (first Australian ever taken in the NHL draft), centers Shane Gersich and Steven Spinner, and Swedish right-winger Kevin Elgestal.

More information:
» Washington Post: New Capitals Coach Barry Trotz

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