The Capitals yesterday acquired D Steve Shirreffs from the Flames in exchange for C Benoit Gratton.

The 6-foot-3, 220-pound Shirreffs had two goals and 17 assists in 27 games for Princeton last season, his final year at the Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference school. Shirreffs, a 1995 entry draft selection, will be reunited with former teammate Jeff Halpern, who signed with the Capitals this spring and played four seasons of college hockey with Shirreffs.

Gratton had been in the Capitals organization for four seasons and had four goals and three assists in 16 games last season.

FLYERS NEWS: F John LeClair has visited a back specialist after injuring himself during off-ice workouts, the team said. GM Bob Clarke said LeClair's agent, Lew Gross, "explained to me this afternoon that the doctors found nothing significantly wrong in John's back, other than he has a little bit of nerve damage."

Meanwhile, the team re-signed veteran D Karl Dykhuis to a three-year contract.

MOVES: The Thrashers signed RW Kelly Buchberger to a new three-year contract, preventing him from becoming an unrestricted free agent after the upcoming season. . . . The Lightning re-signed LW Colin Forbes to a three-year contract. . . . The Flames re-signed D Denis Gauthier to an undisclosed contract.