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Capitals add Niskanen and Orpik in NHL free agent frenzy to bolster blue line behind Ovechkin

  • Wild Vanek Hockey-1.jpg

    FILE - In this Dec. 21, 2013 file photo, New York Islanders' Thomas Vanek (26) drives the puck down ice to score a goal against Anaheim Ducks during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Uniondale, N.Y. The Minnesota Wild have made another splash in free agency. Vanek, one of the top free agents available, agreed to terms on a three-year contract with the Wild on Tuesday, July 1, 2014. (AP Photo/Kathy Kmonicek, File) (The Associated Press)

  • Capitals Free Agency Hockey-2.jpg

    FILe - This is a Jan. 20, 2014 file photo showing Pittsburgh Penguins' Brooks Orpik (44) during an NHL hockey game against the Florida Panthers in Pittsburgh. The Washington Capitals opened free agency Tuesday , July 1, 2014, by signing defenseman Brooks Orpik to a $27.5 million, five-year contract, and goaltender Justin Peters to a $1.9 million, two-year contract. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, File) (The Associated Press)

NHL free agency has opened with a flurry of moves.

Defenseman Matt Niskanen cashed in on his free agency, signing a seven-year, $40.25 million contract with the Washington Capitals.

The Capitals, trying to support superstar Alex Ovechkin with more talent, also signed defenseman Brooks Orpik to a $27.5 million, five-year deal.

Colorado veteran Paul Stastny got a $28 million, four-year contract from the St. Louis Blues.

Thomas Vanek and Ryan Miller were also on the move hours after the market opened Tuesday. The Minnesota Wild signed Vanek, a forward, to a $19.5 million, three-year deal. The Vancouver Canucks gave Miller a three-year deal worth $18 million.

More than 10 teams, including the Buffalo Sabres, handed out contracts worth more than $4 million a season on Day 1 of free agency.