Aaron Volpatti also receives new deal

As summer turned to fall seven months ago, Capitals forward Eric Fehr owned a checkered injury history and was without a job. That made for a long, trying NHL lockout.

When the league finally resumed business in early January, Fehr received a second chance from his old team. Fresh off a stint in Finland, where he regained his health during the lockout and found his game, the 27-year-old winger signed with Washington, which had made him its first-round draft pick in 2003, to bolster its depth at forward.

The move has worked beautifully for both parties. Fehr has appeared in 39 games and scored eight goals with eight assists. He has filled in capably on the second, third and fourth lines as injuries or inconsistent play felled some of his teammates. And Fehr was rewarded for his play with a two-year contract extension Tuesday worth $3 million. He will earn $1.4 million next season and $1.6 million in 2014-15 after playing for $600,000 this year.

Up next
Senators at Capitals
When » Thursday, 7 p.m.
Where » Verizon Center
Notes » The Caps have clinched the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference for next week's Stanley Cup playoffs, but they still have two games remaining in the regular season. They conclude vs. Boston at home Saturday. ... Ottawa, which entered play Wednesday as the No. 8 seed in the conference, is 2-0 against the Caps this season. ... Against the four teams the Caps could face in the first round -- Toronto, Ottawa, New York Rangers, New York Islanders -- they are a combined 3-8.

"I like to call this place home, so I'm real excited," Fehr said.

Fehr was traded to the Winnipeg Jets, his home province team in Manitoba, after the 2010-11 season, but his time there was marred by yet another shoulder injury. Those have plagued him throughout his hockey career. Fehr, who scored just two goals for the Jets and played in only 35 games, was not re-signed after the season.

"He deserves it. He's had a great season," teammate Mike Green said. "Eric's such a dynamic player the way he plays, and he's been a big part of our success."

And Fehr wasn't the only one provided some security Tuesday. Teammate Aaron Volpatti, a winger acquired off waivers from Vancouver on Feb. 28, signed a two-year contract extension worth $1.1 million. The 28-year-old has earned playing time primarily on the fourth line late this season. He and fellow fourth liners Jay Beagle and Matt Hendricks have looked strong together in recent games.

That trio created a variety of scoring chances during Tuesday's 5-3 win over Winnipeg that clinched the Southeast Division title and a playoff berth for Washington. Volpatti's physical play and willingness to embrace that role have landed him a place in an organization he knew little about before the Caps picked him up.

"We brought [Volpatti] in because of his skating ability, size and physical play. He hits guys," Washington coach Adam Oates said. "He didn't get a chance to play for a while. Because of the injuries, he's got in and he's done a good job. That fourth line scored the first goal last night, bring energy for us. When he finishes guys, they're aware of him out there, and that's an important contribution."