Forwards Eric Fehr and Aaron Volpatti were trying to salvage careers when they came to the Capitals this season, one as a free-agent the other off NHL waivers.
On Wednesday they both agreed to two-year contract extensions through 2015.
Fehr, 27, has eight goals and eight assists in 39 games with the Caps and is earning $600,000 this season. He will earn $1.4 million next season and $1.6 million in 2014-15.
Volpatti, 28, has one goal, one assist and 33 penalty minutes in 31 games with the Canucks and Caps and is earning $600,000 this season. He’ll earn $550,000 next season and $600,000 in 2014-15.
Fehr spent parts of six seasons with the Caps before getting traded to the Winnipeg Jets, in part because of his $2.2 million cap hit. Shoulder surgery limited him to 35 games last season and when there was little interest in re-signing him, Fehr played in Sweden during the lockout, hoping an NHL team would take a chance on him.
“It was tough for me to find a job this year for many reasons,” Fehr said. “They gave me a chance to come back and I’m thankful. I couldn’t be happier to be here and be part of the team again. I call this place home.”
Capitals coach Adam Oates has used Fehr as a third-line right wing this season, giving him time on the power play and on the penalty kill in the absence of Joel Ward.
“I think Fehrsie’s had a fantastic year, from where he came from last year,” Oates said. “He started as a healthy scratch and he’s grown and grown and now he plays in every situation now.”
Volpatti is one of the Caps’ biggest body checkers and has added a physical presence to a fourth line with Matt Hendricks and Jay Beagle.
“It means they’re pretty happy with me so far,” said Volpatti, who was claimed from the Vancouver Canucks on Feb. 28 and was a healthy scratch in 10 of his first 15 games in Washington. “When I first got here I didn’t play much the first two or three weeks and I didn’t think I’d be in this position.”
The signings of Fehr and Volpatti leave the Caps with five unrestricted free agents for next season – forwards Mike Ribeiro [$5 million], Matt Hendricks [$825,000], Wojtek Wolski [$600,000] and Joey Crabb [$950,000] and defenseman Tom Poti [$2.875 million].
Ward skates: Right wing Joel Ward [left knee bruise] skated on his own in full equipment prior to Wednesday’s practice, his first time on the ice since last week. Oates said he was encouraged by Ward’s presence but gave no timetable for when he might return to practice.