The Washington Times - March 4, 2013, 08:51PM

The Washington Capitals signed defenseman Steven Oleksy to a three-year contract and recalled him from the Hershey Bears for their game Tuesday night against the Boston Bruins. He will be at the morning skate and wear jersey No. 61.

Oleksy has a team-high 151 penalty minutes for the Bears of the American Hockey League. Oleksy, 27, is a right-handed shot and brings more toughness to the roster.

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“It’s well-deserved and well-earned by him,” agent Peter Cooney said in a phone interview Monday night. “He has worked hard for this.”

The Caps figured to put defenseman Mike Green on injured reserve, but that was not official. They already added toughness in the form of left wing Aaron Volpatti, claimed off waivers last week from the Vancouver Canucks.

The 6-foot, 186-pound Oleksy figures to be in the lineup against Boston. It’s uncertain what happened to prompt the move.

And it’s uncertain why the Caps chose to sign and recall Oleksy over bringing up prospect Cam Schilling or playing veteran Roman Hamrlik.

Green is out with a groin injury, but the blue line was supposed to be Karl Alzner with Tomas Kundratek, John Erskine with John Carlson and Tom Poti with Jeff Schultz. Because Oleksy is a righty, it’s possible he will replace either Schultz or Poti against the Bruins. Coach Adam Oates likes having a left-hander and right-hander on each pairing.

Oleksy has two goals and 12 assists for Hershey this season. His two-way, three-year deal is worth $1.6 million at the NHL level ($525,000/95,000 AHL prorated for 2013, $550,000/110,000 for 2013-14 and $550,000/115,000 for 2014-15).

Cooney said Oleksy’s strong game at Verizon Center Dec. 6 and the tutelage of Oates likely helped secure this contract.

“I think if anybody benefited from the lockout, Steve Oleksy might have benefited because he had Adam Oates come down and coach him, teach him,” he said. “Adam had a chance to have Steve get familiar with him and vice versa. And my guess is that Adam probably liked the way he played and liked what he brought to the table and his detailed type of hockey.”

Oleksy’s signing and recall is reminiscent of the Caps doing the same with goon Joel Rechlicz last season. Rechlicz was brought up shortly before Washington saw Rene Bourque in Montreal, soon after his elbow to the head of Nicklas Backstrom that gave the center a concussion. Rechlicz played three games, though not against the Canadiens, and racked up 10 penalty minutes.

But Oleksy got a three-year deal, whereas Rechlicz got one. Because of the multiple-year deal, Cooney does not believe his client was signed just to face Boston.

“I don’t think it’s a contract signed to play the Boston Bruins. It’s for his grit, his energy,” Cooney said. “I think it’s more because we signed a three-year deal, they want him in their system for more than just this year. … They want him in for the next two years.”