WASHINGTON (AP) -The Washington Capitals signed center Michael Nylander to a four-year, $19.5 million contract Monday, the team's third free-agent signing in two days.
Nylander joins forward Viktor Kozlov and defenseman Tom Poti in the team's haul during the first 48 hours of the NHL's open market. After subsisting as a last-place team on a low payroll since the lockout ended in 2005, the Capitals have vowed this summer to spend more as they attempt to build a playoff team around young star Alex Ovechkin.
"We had to go through that phase where we were a young team and we had to figure out just exactly who we were and who could do what," general manager George McPhee said. "I don't think it made sense to really spend money and add free agents until we knew what we were and just exactly what we needed. So we went through that phase for two years and we think we did some things the past couple days that make us far more competitive and address some real needs. We're hopefully knocking on the playoff door now."
The 34-year-old Nylander had career highs in goals (26) and assists (57) with the New York Rangers last season. A native of Stockholm, Sweden, he has played for seven teams in his 15-year NHL career, including 74 games with the Capitals from 2002-04. He has 189 goals and 420 assists in 808 career games.
Nylander has also represented Sweden twice at the Winter Olympics and nine times at the world championships.
Kozlov and Poti are former New York Islanders. Kozlov, who agreed to a two-year deal, scored a career-high 25 goals and added 26 assists for the Islanders last season. A 2000 NHL All-Star, he has 169 goals and 273 assists over 13 years with four NHL teams.
Poti, who agreed to a four-year contract, was a 2003 All-Star and a member of the 1998-99 All-Rookie team. He's played eight NHL seasons for three teams, posting 58 goals and 194 assists, including 44 points for the Islanders last season. He also played for the United States at the 2002 Olympics.