The Washington Times - April 24, 2013, 11:08AM

The Washington Capitals re-signed right wing Eric Fehr and tough guy Aaron Volpatti to two-year contracts, the team announced Wednesday.

Fehr signed a two-year deal worth $3 million, and Volpatti signed for $1.15 million.

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“I think I just really wanted to be here,” Fehr said. “Obviously I see the way the team has been the last couple of months and I just want to be a part of it. I think that with Coach [Adam] Oates here he’s done a great job. I think we expect a lot out of this team and I want to be here for it.

The 27-year-old Fehr, the Caps’ first-round pick in 2003, will make $1.4 million next season and $1.6 million the following season. That’s a nice raise from his one-year, $600,000 contract earned just after the NHL lockout.

Fehr, whose career was dogged by shoulder injuries, showed he could stay healthy while playing in Finland and has been mostly all right this season. He has eight goals and eight assists in 39 games.

“I think Fehrsie’s had a fantastic year,” Oates said. “He started as a healthy scratch, 13th forward, and he’s got an extension which obviously means he’s just grown and grown and grown in responsibilities and I play him in every situation now.”

Fehr picked up penalty-killing minutes midway through the season when Oates couldn’t find room on the power play. Injuries to Brooks Laich and Joel Ward opened space there.

“For some reason every chance he’s got he’s done a good job and helped us progress,” the Caps’ coach said. “He’s scored some big goals, made some big plays and just kept contributing all year long. I put him in so many different spots and he’s done a great job.”

The Caps claimed Volpatti off waivers from the Vancouver Canucks on Feb. 28. The enforcer brought more toughness to a team that soon after signed and recalled defenseman Steve Oleksy.

During a run to the Southeast Division title, Volpatti replaced Wojtek Wolski as a regular in the lineup and Wednesday was rewarded for his play with an extension.

“We brought him in because of his skating ability, size and physical play,” Oates said of Volpatti. “He hits guys. He didn’t get a chance to play for a while and because of the injuries he’s got in [the lineup]. … When he finishes guys, they’re aware of him out there, and that’s an important contribution.”

Volpatti hopes to pick up more of a penalty-killing role moving forward, but for now he recognizes his role as a fourth-line grinder. Even that consistent playing time was hard to envision in early March, let alone a new deal that will pay him $575,000 in each of the next two seasons.

“When I first got here, I didn’t play much the first two, three weeks, so I didn’t really think I’d be in this position,” he said. “And I’ve played well the last month or so and here we are.”