(Susan Walsh/Associated Press)

Veteran defenseman Tom Poti hopes to continue his playing career but will not return to the Capitals next season.

After showing he could still hold his own in the NHL after missing more than two years with injury, Poti is confident in his ability to stay healthy and contribute to a team, but knows he didn’t fit in Washington’s future plans.

“I definitely won’t be back in Washington. I was never really in Oatesy’s plan,” said Poti, who is set to become an unrestricted free agent on July 5. “I’m just going to continue to train and work out this summer, my agents will be working the phones so I can get a new contract for next year and find a place for me to play.”

Poti, 36, made an improbable return to the Capitals this season after being sidelined for over two years with a fractured pelvis and lingering groin injuries. It was far from a fairy-tale comeback, though.

While he didn’t experience any new problems with his groin, Poti missed time with both neck and back injuries this season. He played just five games before Toronto’s Leo Komarov sent him into the boards on Feb. 5 and caused him to miss the next four contests with whiplash. Poti appeared in 11 of the next 14 games before Buffalo’s Steve Ott cross checked him in the back, tearing cartilage in his ribs on March 17.

“It was frustrating. I worked so hard to get back from the groin injury and I was able to make it back from that no problem, then early on I was in and out of the lineup,” Poti said. “Probably the last six or seven weeks of the season I was perfectly healthy enough to play….I was hoping that they would give me a chance. Obviously the boys were playing well toward the end but as a veteran defenseman, I felt I could have helped out a little bit, who knows how much.”

Poti didn’t play again after suffering the back injury and finished having played just 16 games in his first year back in the NHL. Rather than focus on what might have been, Poti is taking a positive approach and focusing on the fact that the injury that kept him away from hockey for two years wasn’t a factor.

“It’s time to move forward toward the future. The biggest thing for me was I didn’t know how my groin was going to hold up skating day in and day out and playing games,” Poti said. “It was a good sign I was able to do that and I had no problems with my groin at all this year. That was the big thing this year and it held up; it’s encouraging to know that, and I’m excited to further my career somewhere.”