Capitals land Niskanen

Niskanen was drafted by the Dallas Stars in the first round of the 2005 NHL Draft. Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Washington Capitals announced the signing of defenseman Matt Niskanen on Tuesday to a seven-year, $40.25 million contract. He was considered one of the top available NHL free agents this summer.

Niskanen had 10 goals, 36 assists and a plus-33 rating in 81 games last season after never recording more than seven goals or 29 assists in a single season.

“We are very excited that Matt Niskanen has chosen to sign with Washington,” general manager Brian MacLellan said in a statement. “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. We have stated all along that upgrading the defense was our top priority this offseason and we feel we accomplished our goal with our signings today.”

Niskanen joins fellow ex-Penguin Brooks Orpik, who also signed with the Capitals on Tuesday, in a massive overhaul of the Capitals’ blueline.