Apologies for going full pun fool on the headline, but we’ve got breaking news out of D.C.. The Washington Capitals have signed impending UFA, and guy we’d probably name captain of the Capitals if it were our decision to make, Brooks Laich to a new six-year $27 million contract extension. The terms of the deal, as per ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun, are as follows: $6.5 million for next season followed by $4 million in 2012-13 and 2013-14; $4.5 million in 2014-15; and $4 million in each of final two years.

It’s a front-loaded deal, but the $4.5 million annual cap hit is about what anyone would have expected Laich to fetch on the open market barring someone drastically overpaying for his services. Laich would have drawn significant interest around the league had he gone the route of free agency, but both he and the Capitals had previously hinted at getting something done in advance of July 1.

Laich was one of the Capitals better post-season performers in what was yet another disappointing playoff appearance. Capitals GM George McPhee hammered home the importance of Laich to his club, via Mike Vogel:

“Whenever you’re negotiating these contracts, you have to look at what is the best alternative in the event that this deal isn’t done. And we didn’t see anyone else out there that could do what Brooks does for us. But that wasn’t really what drove this deal. What was driving the deal was that we think he’s a really valuable player for our club. How many players in this league can do what he does? We believe he should be a Selke [Trophy] nominee because he’s really good defensively.”

With that you can scratch another name off the upper echelon of 2011 unrestricted free agents.

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