Karl Alzner got what he wanted most in his new contract with the Washington Capitals.
"For me, it was mostly about security, being able to stay in one place and knowing you have a deal for the next four years," the 24-year-old defenseman said Wednesday after signing a four-year, $11.2 million contract to remain with the Capitals. "It was something that we were really interested in. Hopefully I don't end up getting traded or anything like that.
"The two-year deal I got last time (in 2011) was nice, but if you ask a majority of the guys, it's better to have a long-term deal."
Alzner, a first-round pick (No. 27) by Washington in 2007, has been the team's top defensive defenseman since becoming a regular in the lineup at the start of the 2010-11 season. He has played in every game during the past three seasons and averaged more than 20 minutes a night in 2012-13 when the Capitals won the Southeast Division title before losing to the New York Rangers in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Capitals general manager George McPhee said he also is pleased to have Alzner, a restricted free agent who could have gone to arbitration, locked up long-term.
"Really important. We're really happy with that," McPhee said when asked about the importance of re-signing Alzner. "We had talked about two years, three years, four years. He wanted four, and we were happy with four. We're glad it's done and we don't have to revisit it for four years."
Alzner said he feels the Capitals' future looks good.
"Another thing for me is looking at the team, we have a legitimate chance of doing something good, and I think everybody wants to be on a winning team," he said. "The longer an opportunity I have to be with this team, the better I think it's going to be."
Though he spent much of last season skating next to Mike Green on the team's top defensive pairing. Alzner wasn't a big point producer; he scored one goal and finished with five points in 48 regular-season games, and had a goal and an assist in seven playoff games. In his career, Alzner has five goals, 44 points and a plus-17 rating in 263 games.
Alzner could have opted for arbitration but said he chose the security of a four-year contract partly because his style of play can be hard for an arbitrator to quantify.
"I did hear some stories about it," he said of the arbitration process. "It's not the most fun thing for players to go through, and probably not for teams either.
"My game isn't something you can read about and get too good of a sense; it's something you have to watch on video over a long period of time. From what I've heard, it's not the best place to be, so it was in both of our best interests to settle before that. If I'd scored 50 points it would have been great for me financially, but that's not my game."
The new contract covers the first season of Alzner's unrestricted-free-agent eligibility, and McPhee said he didn't feel the need to stretch the deal any longer than that.
"We don't want to do too many long-term deals, and four years is a long time," McPhee said. "We can go back to Karl in three years and start again. He's the kind of player coaches love, [general] managers love: a really reliable player, a great teammate. I thought it was a real good pick when we made it [in 2007]. I thought he could play here for 15 years, and it looks like that could happen."
With Alzner signed, the Capitals have about $5.6 million remaining under the $64.3 million NHL salary cap for next season.