Caps sign their top pick in 2007 draft

The Washington Capitals on Thursday signed defenseman Karl Alzner, their top draft pick in 2007, to a three-year contract.

Alzner, taken fifth overall in the 2007 draft, played junior hockey this season and was the Western Hockey League player of the year at Calgary, with 7 goals, 29 assists and a plus-minus rating of plus-26.

The Capitals believe Alzner, 19, a 6-foot-2 stay-at-home defenseman, has the patience and discipline to make the transition to the pro game. They don't expect he will return to juniors.

"Karl will be playing pro next year," Capitals general manager George McPhee said. "Whether he starts out with our team is up to him. This is a good team now and we like where we're going, but we'll make room for someone who can make us better, and we expect that he can."

"I think for my game, where it is right now I want to be more of an offensive threat," Alzner said. "I don't think I'm good enough on the offensive blueline, and I want to be, well, like Mike Green is."

The Captials also announced they have extended their player development agreement with the Hershey Bears of the American Hockey League through the 2009-10 season, with an option for 2010-11.