The Washington Capitals have signed Matt Niskanen to a seven-year, $42.5 million contract. The Florida Panthers signed Willie Mitchell to a two-year contract. 

Matt Niskanen joins the Capitals.

Matt Niskanen joins the Capitals.

 SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s over $6 million annually for Niskanen, who cashes in on a summer when there wasn’t a lot of talented blueliner available in this year’s UFA market. That’s not to belittle the 27-year-old’s performance, as his play last season could be indicative that he’s blossomed into a solid two-way defender.

He’ll be reunited with former Penguins teammate and defenseman Brooks Orpik, who signed with the Capitals earlier in the day. Niskanen will  have to prove that he didn’t benefit from playing on a deeper club in Pittsburgh. His addition also raises questions about Mike Green’s future with the Capitals. 

Mitchell’s deal is said to be worth over $8 million, which would be over $4 million per season. He will bring leadership and experience to the Panthers defense, plus his deal also helps the club get over the salary cap floor. Still, that’s a lot of coin invested in an ageing (37) blueliner who missed an entire season to a knee injury in 2012-13.