The Washington Capitals have acquired goaltender Craig Billington from the Colorado Avalanche to be Olaf Kolzig's backup, according to an announcement by the team yesterday. The Capitals promised unspecified "future considerations" to Colorado in return for Billington, the announcement said.

Billington replaces Rick Tabaracci, who became an unrestricted free agent on July 1. Capitals General Manager George McPhee said yesterday he will not attempt to re-sign Tabaracci. It is not known with whom Tabaracci might sign.

Billington is "an experienced backup who understands his role," said McPhee. "He knows that beyond the 15 to 30 games he is expected to play in a given season, his role is to assist the number one goalie and be a good influence on the rest of the team, both on the ice and in the dressing room. He studies the game from a goaltender's perspective as much as anyone has."

Billington, 32, has played the past three seasons with the Avalanche, compiling a 30-23-7 record and a 2.61 goals-against average. He posted a career-high, seven-game unbeaten stretch (4-0-3) with Colorado from Dec. 12, 1997, to Feb. 25, 1998.

Billington, who is 5 feet 10 and 170 pounds, has a 99-130-24 record during his 11-year career.

The native of London, Ontario, was the first goaltender chosen in the 1984 NHL entry draft. He played from 1985 through 1993 with the New Jersey Devils, followed by two years in Ottawa and two in Boston before arriving in Colorado in 1996.