- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Matt Niskanen, considered by many the top defenseman available in NHL free agency, has signed a seven-year, $40.25 million contract with the Washington Capitals.

The team announced the move Tuesday afternoon on the heels of earlier deals with defenseman Brooks Orpik, goaltender Justin Peters and forward Michael Latta.

Niskanen, like Orpik, comes from the Pittsburgh Penguins, where the pair worked with newly hired Capitals assistant coach Todd Reirden.

Niskanen, 27, set career highs in points (46), goals (10), assists (36), games played (81) and game-winning goals (6) in 2013-14, and led all NHL defensemen in plus/minus (plus-33).

“We are very excited that Matt Niskanen has chosen to sign with Washington,” Caps general manager Brian MacLellan said in a statement. “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.”

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