The Washington Capitals made another offseason addition yesterday, signing free agent right wing Ulf Dahlen to a one-year contract. Dahlen, 32, spent the past two seasons playing professionally in his native Sweden after his 10-year NHL career stalled in Chicago in 1997.
Capitals General Manager George McPhee would not disclose Dahlen's salary, but sources close to the team said he will receive $850,000 this season. McPhee said the contract gives the club an option for a second year.
At 6 feet 2 and 195 pounds, Dahlen is "a big, talented guy," McPhee said. "He is as good a player as you'll find along the boards, European or otherwise. He's just great in the corners and he is also very good on special teams. . . . We think he can play among our top nine forwards. And we hope he can have the impact Brian Bellows had when he came back from Europe."
The Capitals signed Bellows--who had gone from the NHL to a German league--midway through the 1997-98 season and he helped lead the club to the Stanley Cup finals.
McPhee said Dahlen indicated a strong desire to prove himself at the NHL level again. Dahlen was in Sweden yesterday and was unavailable to comment.
"Sometimes people give up on a player a bit and perhaps the player gets a little stale, but he goes away from the league for a while and realizes how much he misses playing at this level," McPhee said. "[Dahlen] made comments that made it clear he wants to compete."
McPhee said that, despite Dahlen's age, the signing was not a risk because of the contract's length. Dahlen will help replace veteran forwards Michal Pivonka, 33, and Kelly Miller, 36, whom the team has not re-signed.
A first-round draft pick (seventh overall) by the New York Rangers in 1985, Dahlen averaged more than 25 goals and 50 points during his first seven seasons, which were split among New York, Minnesota-Dallas and San Jose.
In his most recent NHL season, Dahlen scored eight goals in 43 games with San Jose before being traded to Chicago, where he had six goals in 30 games. He then left the NHL to join Jonkoping of the Swedish Elite League. Last season, Dahlen was the only player on Jonkoping to register more than a point per game, averaging 1.16.