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Capitals sign Orpik and Niskanen from the Penguins to improve their blueline

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When the Washington Capitals looked to upgrade their blueline this offseason, they only needed to look to their rival: the Pittsbugh Penguins. On Tuesday, they signed defenseman Brooks Orpik to a five-year deal. They then followed that up by signing blueliner Matt Niskanen to a seven-year pact.

In all, they committed $67 million to the two former Penguins. Niskanen’s deal has an annual value of $5.75 million, while Orpik’s carries a cap hit of $5.5 million.

"I know it's a big commitment by ownership," said Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan. "We feel we've addressed areas that we felt we needed to address. We needed to shore up our defense, give us some depth, give us some leadership, give us some experience. I think we've accomplished that."

A seven-year veteran, the 27-year-old Niskanen really came into his own last season. In 81 games, he had 10 goals and 46 points last season. He was also plus-33. Niskanen added nine points in 13 playoff contests.

“We are very excited that Matt Niskanen has chosen to sign with Washington,” said 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.”

The 33-year-old Orpik is more of the stay-at-home type. In 72 regular season games, he had 13 points. He added two points in five playoff contests. Selected by the Penguins in the first round of the 2000 NHL Entry Draft, Orpik has played 703 games for the Penguins, winning the Stanley Cup in 2010. He has also played for the United States in the last two Olympics, winning a Silver Medal in 2010.

“We are very excited to welcome Brooks to Washington,” said MacLellan. “We feel Brooks’ leadership and experience will greatly enhance our defense for years to come.”

The Capitals also signed former Penguin Chris Connor on Tuesday to a one-year two-way deal. In 19 games for the Pens last season, Connor had five points.

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