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Caps give D Niskanen 7-year deal

<p>Matt Niskanen parlayed a breakout season into a huge payday as a free agent.</p>

Arlington, VA (SportsNetwork.com) - Matt Niskanen parlayed a breakout season into a huge payday as a free agent.

The Washington Capitals signed the defenseman to a seven-year, $40.25 million contract on Tuesday.

Niskanen set career highs across the board in 2013-14 with the Pittsburgh Penguins. He compiled 10 goals and 36 assists in 81 games and led all NHL blueliners with a plus-33 rating.

"We are very excited that Matt Niskanen has chosen to sign with Washington," said Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan. "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."

The Capitals inked Niskanen's former Pittsburgh teammate Brooks Orpik to a five-year, $27.5 million contract earlier Tuesday.

A 2005 first-round draft pick of the Dallas Stars, Niskanen has 35 goals and 132 assists in 491 career games.

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