Knuble gives the Caps what they're missing; Niedermayer stays

MVP of the offseason for the Washington Capitals? That would be Chris Pronger.

Not giving up the package the Anaheim Ducks were seeking for Pronger -- which included one of the elite young goalies, an elite prospect, a roster player and a top pick -- might be looked back upon as a key "non-move" on their path to a championship.

Then, as Pronger's contract was added to the Philadelphia Flyers' roster, Mike Knuble was shaken loose as a UFA and ends up with the Washington Capitals for a two-year, $5.8-million contract.

Let us join the chorus of saying this was a great signing. He's a bigger Chris Clark with better results, about four years older and with a $140,000 higher cap hit. Or he's their Bill Guerin, to put it in Pittsburgh Penguins terms: The no-nonsense, veteran (37 next season) North American player who will get dirty in the crease and stir it up on the ice. The Flyers loved him as a teammate. Not the second line center fans have been screaming they need, but a very important addition in building a winner.

• Meanwhile, Capitals enforcer Donald Brashear goes to the New York Rangers (two years, $2.8 million) in one of the most bat-crap crazy, unforeseen moves of the day. Like with Fedorov, Washington was a better sports town with him in it. Rangers fans will learn to like him, too, once they get finished cleaning up pieces of Blair Betts from the Garden ice.

Scott Niedermayer ends a bit of drama with a one-year contract worth $6 million (per TSN) with the Anaheim Ducks. He had a $6.75 million cap hit last season. The Canucks and Devils were mentioned as "kicking the tires" on Niedermayer, but it would have been public relations suicide for the Ducks to have made the Pronger deal and then lose Niedermayer, too.

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• Finally, the Columbus Blue Jackets have made their offer to Rick Nash, who hits free agency next summer. Have to love the timing, as Nash watches the Marian Hossa deal and the Sedins' deals go down. 

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