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Forward Laich signs $27 million deal to stay with Capitals

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Reuters) - Forward Brooks Laich signed a $27 million six-year deal to stay with the Washington Capitals on Tuesday, removing another player from the NHL free-agent market.

"I gave my agent instructions that I fully intended to return to Washington and that was my only choice," he told the team's website (http://capitals.nhl.com). "I wasn't looking to test the market."

Laich has three times scored more than 20 goals in a campaign but the 28-year-old's production dipped last season when he recorded 16 goals and 32 assists.

Taken in the sixth round of the 2001 draft by Ottawa, he played only five games for the Senators and has spent the rest of his seven-year career in Washington, scoring 100 goals and 237 points in 475 games.

Laich's new deal comes just three days before Laich was due to become an unrestricted free agent.

His contract extension further diminishes what was already considered an unspectacular crop of unrestricted free agents.

(Writing by Steve Keating in Toronto, editing by Tony Jimenez)