ODENTON, Md. (AP) _ The struggling Washington Capitals signed holdout Chris Simon, their leading scorer last season, to a two-year, $4.5 million deal.

The defending Southeast Division champions are 1-3-3 this season, averaging less than three goals per game. The return of Simon, who had a team-high 29 goals last year, should help.

``It's great to have him back,'' team captain Adam Oates said after Monday's practice. ``If we had him in the beginning, we would have a couple more wins.''

Simon, 28, missed all of training camp and the first three weeks of the regular season. The left wing will earn $2.25 million this year and next, with a club option for a third year, under the deal reached Monday.

Capitals coach Ron Wilson said he expects Simon to be in game shape within a week.

Simon reached a career high in goals last season and had 20 assists. He also led the Capitals in penalty minutes (146), power-play goals (seven) and shots (201).

``If he contributes the way he did last year, having him back is nothing but a bonus,'' goaltender Olie Kolzig said. ``He's also great in the dressing room. It just adds a little confidence to our hockey team.''

Simon had been looking for a lucrative, long-term deal as a reward for his big season, but the Capitals were weary of making such a commitment to a player with a history of injuries.

``There were many variables involved in completing his contract, and it took some time,'' general manager George McPhee said. ``But we are glad to have it behind us and look forward to many productive seasons from Chris.''

It became apparent early in the season that Washington desperately needed Simon to boost an attack that produced just eight goals in its first five games.

``When you're talking about chemistry, missing someone like Simon had an impact,'' Wilson said. ``Getting him back gets us closer to where we want to be.''