Capitals lock off the free agency period until March 4, 2018. 

That’s an extension the team wants to give to two defensemen who were acquired last season. 

On Thursday, the team announced it has agreed to a three-year contract with two free agents, defenseman Justin Faulk and forward Ryan Johansen.

Johansen, 26, is the fourth defenseman to sign a three year contract with the Caps, joining the likes of Michael Del Zotto, Alex Ovechkin, and Alex Ovi.

Johansson was acquired from the Nashville Predators in the blockbuster trade that sent Evgeni Malkin to the Capitals in February, and he signed a one-year, $1.9 million deal with the team in April.

The Capitals also re-signed defenseman Adam Oates to a two-year deal in July, while forward Brooks Orpik and goaltender Matt Murray signed two-way contracts.

Murray, who spent three seasons with the Philadelphia Flyers, will make $2.925 million this season.

Orpiskie, a native of Toronto, is a four-year veteran who played for the Flyers from 2011-13.

Oates, 30, spent seven seasons in the NHL and signed a three season, $6.3 million deal in March.

Johanansen, 22, was acquired in the trade with the Nashville Sabres that sent goaltender Ryan Miller to the Nashville Wild in March and is one of the most versatile defensemen in the league.

He has a .922 save percentage in four seasons with Nashville.JOHANSSEN HAS BEEN AWESOME AT TIMES: The NHL Trade Rumors blog has been around since the beginning of the season and is always an interesting read for those of us who follow the game.

The site offers up daily trade stories and the best of the hockey world.

The blog has the NHL Trade Tracker, which tracks the most significant deals in the off-season and helps us determine which teams need to improve and which need to add to their core of players.

I thought I’d do a weekly look at the Caps top three trade prospects.

I will be updating this list throughout the season, but for now, I’ll just give a few observations. 

The team has spent the past two summers in pursuit of a defenseman who has a proven track record of success in the National Hockey League.

The Caps are interested in acquiring a defenseman for the second consecutive season and they have been linked to some of the top prospects in the game since the start of the summer.

The last time the Caps made a trade for a defenseman was the 2013-14 season.

There have been rumors that they may look to make a play for the free agent defenseman of the year, Connor Carrick, in the offseason.

Carrick has yet to sign an extension with the Avalanche, but he’s one of two players the Caps have expressed interest in in free agency this summer.

Another defenseman that has been linked with the Capitals is Evgeny Kuznetsov.

The two are close friends and the two were teammates with the Colorado Avalanche during the lockout shortened 2015-16 season.

Kuznets contract expired in July and he has been a free agent for the past three seasons.

Kuznetov is a talented, mobile defenseman with a strong shot, a good stick, and offensive ability.

He was a member of the Russia squad that won gold at the 2014 Sochi Olympics and was a finalist for the 2016 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Trophy.

The next two trade targets are center Nate Schmidt and defenseman Nicklas Backstrom.

Schmidt, 27, is in his fourth NHL season and has been solid in the bottom-six for the Capitals this season, logging nearly 60 minutes a night.

Backstrom, 27 is entering the final season of a five-year extension he signed in 2014-15 and he is coming off of a breakthrough season in which he scored 15 goals and had 53 points in 63 games.KURZNETS PRICE OF PLAY: The Capitals defense has been an area of focus for the team this offseason.

They have been a good defensive team for most of the past few seasons, but they have struggled on offense recently.

The Capitals have had their struggles on offense in recent years.

The goalies have been poor as well.

The Capitals need a top-four defenseman, and they’re looking to add one of them this summer in return for one of their top three prospects.

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