The Capitals signed defenseman Jack Hillen to a two-year, $1.4 million contract extension, the team announced Tuesday. Hillen will earn $700,000 in both 2013-14 and in 2014-15.
“I just wanted to get it settled and get it behind me so I can just concentrate on hockey and play the game,” said Hillen, who is glad to have some stability with his wife due to give birth to the couple’s second child within the next two weeks. “Stuff off the ice it’s nice when it takes care of itself and when that’s what happens, you can just focus on hockey and have fun playing.”
Hillen, 26, appreciated that the Capitals gave him a chance to prove himself this season when they signed him to a one-year, one-way $650,000 contract last summer as a free agent. He believes he fits well in Coach Adam Oates’s system that emphasizes quick moving, smart passes on defense.
“It meant a lot. That’s one of the reasons I wanted to get it done and signed because they gave me an opportunity and a good chance,” Hillen said. “I really like the style we play, it fits well for my game. They gave me a chance and I like it here so I really wanted to get something done, it’s great.”
With the extension for Hillen the Capitals have five defensemen signed to one-way contracts for next season. Washington also has Dmitry Orlov and Steve Oleksy, who are both on two-way deals but have shown they can play in the NHL, under contract for next season.
Of those seven blueliners, four including Hillen are left-handed shots. The Capitals are also expected to re-sign top pairing defenseman Karl Alzner, also a lefty, who will become a restricted free agent this summer.
Hillen has one assist in 10 games with the Capitals. He missed 25 games this season with a shoulder injury after being checked into the boards by Tampa Bay’s Vincent Lecavalier in the season opener but since returning from the injury he’s played a top-four role as injuries piled up on the blue line.