The Washington Capitals said yesterday that left wing Chris Simon has signed a one-year contract with the team.
Simon was a restricted free agent, meaning that the Capitals had to make him a qualifying offer -- a 10 percent raise from his current salary -- to retain his rights. Simon, 27, accepted the offer, which will pay him $1.32 million next season.
"[Simon] has the best combination of skill and toughness that you'll find in this league," Capitals General Manager George McPhee said. "He can be very effective and we are looking forward to seeing him play."
Simon has been plagued by injuries since being acquired from Colorado before the 1996-97 season. The injuries limited Simon to 93 games in his three seasons with Washington, in which he has registered 19 goals, 30 assists and 49 points.
Last season, Simon had 3 goals, 7 assists and 48 penalty minutes in 23 games before undergoing season-ending surgery on his right shoulder Dec. 21. It was the second time Simon had surgery on the shoulder, which he separated during the 1997-98 season.
"We had the surgery done right, finally," McPhee said. "Last time he came back too early, whereas this time he will have six to eight months of recovery." In regard to Simon's history of injuries, McPhee added: "Some of those were related to fitness and that is not an issue anymore. Since I've been in Washington he has been dedicated to his fitness."
Simon has a personal trainer in addition to those on the Capitals' staff. Simon was unavailable to comment.
The Capitals unofficially opened the 1999-2000 season yesterday with their annual rookie camp, with the team's draftees and selected minor league prospects going through weightlifting routines in Bowie with Frank Costello, the team's strength and conditioning coach. Veterans are not required to attend, but team officials said defenseman Joe Reekie, goaltender Olaf Kolzig and unsigned winger Craig Berube joined yesterday's workout.
Center Kris Beech, the Capitals' first selection and seventh overall in this year's NHL draft, said he enjoyed working with Costello. The prospects will begin skating at the Capitals' practice facility in Odenton next week.
"[Costello] is a very motivational guy, very positive," Beech said. "Offseason training is a big part of how your season goes, so I'm looking forward to getting more fit in these two weeks."
Beech, 18, is a native of British Columbia and said he is unaccustomed to the current weather.
"It gets hot in the summer up in British Columbia, but never this humid," Beech said. "Tomorrow we'll be outside, but it will be early in the morning, so hopefully it won't be bad."