The Washington Capitals are set to sign free agent right wing Eric Fehr to a one-year, $600,000 deal, pending his passing a physical, a team source said Saturday. The move can become official when the NHL opens for business.
Fehr, 27, spent parts of his first six NHL seasons with the Caps, continuously battling shoulder injuries. Washington traded him to the Winnipeg Jets in July 2011 for a fourth-round pick and minor league enforcer Danick Paquette. It was essentially a salary dump of his $2.2 million cap hit.
Healthy and with the experience of lighting up Finland’s SM-Liiga behind him, Fehr is back with the Caps to add some forward depth. He will earn about $352,000 on the pro-rated $600,000 deal.
“To have him come back, that’s pretty cool,” said Caps center Jay Beagle, a good friend of Fehr’s who was surprised to hear the news from reporters. “I’ve always thought that he’s a great player. Real patient with the puck and he’s smart. He’s smart and he’s easy to play with. I didn’t play with him a lot, but every time I did get a chance to play with him, he was a guy that was easy to play with because he makes good reads out there on the ice.”
Fehr had 13 goals and 12 assists in 21 games for HPK Hameenlinna in Finland during the NHL lockout. The Winkler, Manitoba, native had two goals and one assist in 35 games with the Jets last season.
He was a restricted free agent; the Jets did not extend him a qualify offer to maintain his rights.
Fehr’s most memorable moment with the Caps came in the Winter Classic against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Jan. 1, 2011. He had two goals in the win.
“He’s a guy who really, I think, rises to the occasion when it’s a big game,” Beagle said. “I watched the Winter Classic this year when we were in the lockout and stuff and he had a great day. What a game he had.”
The 6-foot-4, 204-pound right wing was the No. 18 overall pick in the 2003 draft by Washington, one pick ahead of Ryan Getzlaf. His career has been derailed by shoulder injuries and surgeries.
Now, he has the chance, back with the Caps, to show his original potential. That’s at least what the team is betting on with the low-risk move.
Fehr’s signing with the Caps can become official once the memorandum of understanding is signed by the league and NHL Players’ Association. That is expected to happen Saturday.
His first home game back at Verizon Center will be Jan. 22 against the Jets.