The goaltending tandem that proved quite effective for the Washington Capitals during the playoffs last spring is back together as free agent Don Beaupre agreed to a contract.

"It's a relief that it is done," Beaupre said from suburban Minneapolis, where he lives in the offseason. "Don't get me wrong -- I wanted to be there all the way. {General Manager} David Poile did what he thought was right and we did what we thought was right. It took this long to come to an agreement, but I'm ready to play."

Beaupre was the bigger part of a day of good news for the Capitals. The last of the contractual barriers preventing Czechoslovakian right wing Peter Bondra from NHL eligibility have been overcome, Poile said.

All the news on a busy administrative day was not rosy, though, as the Capitals lost two players in the waiver draft.

Bengt Gustafsson played nine seasons (interrupted by a year) for the Capitals before returning to his native Sweden in May of 1989, but the Capitals had retained the rights to the 32-year-old center. They lost those rights yesterday when the Detroit Red Wings -- with former Capitals coach Bryan Murray in the general manager's chair -- chose Gustafsson in the waiver draft.

The Capitals did not protect Gustafsson because they did not expect him to return to the NHL.

"I guess it re-confirmed who Bryan's favorite player was," Poile said jokingly.

More seriously, Poile said, "It did surprise me, but in my discussions with Gus {in 1989} was that this was it, that he didn't want to play in the NHL anymore."

After graciously fielding a middle-of-the-night call, Gustafsson said he still has no current plans to leave his team in Farjestad and return to the NHL. However, he is in the last year of his current contract.

"I will play out this year and see what happens," Gustafsson said.

The Capitals also lost Shawn Anderson, who was a Capital on paper for about 24 hours. Sunday evening, the Capitals acquired the defenseman from Buffalo for Bill Houlder. However, the Capitals chose not to include Anderson among the 18 protected from the draft.

"Shawn Anderson would start the season in Baltimore," Capitals Coach Terry Murray said before the draft, realizing the possibility of Anderson never showing up.

Instead Anderson will go to the Quebec Nordiques. Thus, all the Capitals will get from the Houlder trade is the $60,000 waiver fee from the Nordiques. The waiver fee they received from Detroit for Gustafsson was $5,000.

The signing of Beaupre relieves some of the strain from a preseason that has not had much good news.

Beaupre said he plans to arrive in Washington tonight and practice Thursday. Once he's regained form, the goaltending should be a Washington strength. The defense, particularly the offensive phase of it, is the key area needing help.

"We are very happy with the forwards," Poile said. "We are short on defense. One of two things has to happen. Either the present crew has to get the job done or we will have to make a deal with forwards or draft choices to improve that area."

Beaupre, who turned 29 on Sept. 19, agreed to a one-year contract, with an option year. A source said the contract will include a salary in the neighborhood of $300,000 and a system of bonuses that could earn Beaupre between $350,000 and $400,000 for the season.

"First of all, Donnie was really anxious to start playing," said his agent, Ron Simon. "I think he felt we were close enough that it really wasn't worthwhile not to make a deal. I also think Mr. Poile was about to pick up another goalie and that would mean Donnie would have to go elsewhere in a trade. Donnie likes the city, the team and he's developed friendships there. He'd like to start off where he left off last season."

Beaupre carried the load during much of the 1989-90 regular season. He finished with a 23-18-5 record and a 3.22 goals against average.

The Capitals acquired Mike Liut in March, and Liut helped the Capitals make the playoffs. Beaupre, though, improved in the playoffs, finishing with a 4-3 mark and 2.69 goals-against average.

Beaupre orginally had hoped for a longer contract, but he took this one and said he has no hard feelings about the holdout.

"I thought I might be bitter about it when it finally got done, but it's more of a relief," Beaupre said. "If I wasn't happy with it, I wouldn't have {agreed to} it."

Beaupre has been trying to skate as often as he can but there haven't been many people in his neighborhood to shoot pucks at him. He said he thought it might take a couple of weeks to be completely ready and realizes that a couple of games in Baltimore might be needed. The Capitals' season begins Friday night against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

"I'm glad he's coming in, I'm glad he's signed," Poile said. "Both sides are very happy. We're comfortable with it."