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Hendricks Gets a Two-Year Deal

A guy who comes to an NHL training camp without a contract and without any ties to an organization can’t afford to waste much time in making an impression. Matt Hendricks came to the District last fall just prior to the start of the Capitals’ training camp, and too late for inclusion in the team’s annual media guide. His invitation came only after center Eric Belanger passed over a similar offer for a one-year contract with the Phoenix Coyotes. Hendricks made a fast first impression in training camp, netting a hat trick in the team’s first pre-season contest, a Sept. 22 game at Columbus. Days later, he signed a one-year, two-way deal with the Capitals for the 2010-11 season. The contract will pay Hendricks $800,000 for each of the next two seasons. Today – nearly 11 years after he was drafted by the Nashville Predators in the 2000 NHL Entry Draft – Hendricks has signed the first one-way, multi-year contract of his NHL career. He autographed a two-year pact with the Capitals here at the team’s Kettler Capitals Iceplex offices minutes ago. Hendricks becomes the ninth forward under contract to the Capitals for the 2011-12 season and in some cases, beyond. He joins Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, Alexander Semin, Eric Fehr, Jason Chimera, David Steckel, Marcus Johansson and D.J. King on that list. Although he began his pro career late in the 2003-04 season – after an excellent collegiate career at St. Cloud State – Hendricks didn’t reach the NHL until 2008-09 when he got into four late-season games with the Colorado Avalanche. Hendricks made the Avs’ roster the following season, totaling nine goals and 16 points in 56 games. Thus far this season, he has skated in 57 games with the Capitals, totaling seven goals and 19 points to go along with a team-high 84 penalty minutes. He also leads the Caps with a dozen fighting majors this season, more than half of the total (20) the entire Capitals roster had in 2009-10. Far more than half (115 of 171) of Hendricks’ career penalty minutes have been incurred in fighting majors. Hendricks has also played a role in the resurgence of Washington’s penalty killing corps this season. With an average of 1:25 in shorthanded ice time per game this season, Hendricks ranks fourth among the team’s forwards. He trails only Brooks Laich, Boyd Gordon and David Steckel in that department. Hendricks has shown a willingness to stand up for his teammates, and he plays every shift with drive and determination. He's one of the glue guys, a character player and a character as well. It's nice to see the Caps show their willingness to reward him with a multi-year deal.