WASHINGTON - NHL scoring leader Robert Lang was traded from Washington to the Detroit Red Wings on Friday, another roster shake-up in a losing season for the Capitals.
Lang was dealt to the Central Division-leading Red Wings for left wing Tomas Fleischmann and Detroit's first-round choice in the 2004 entry draft and fourth-round choice in the 2006 entry draft.
Lang, a center, is tied for first in scoring with Tampa Bay's Martin St. Louis with 74 points. He was signed by the Capitals from the Pittsburgh Penguins in July 2002, brought in to join former Pittsburgh teammate Jaromir Jagr. His five-year, $25 million contract is the richest in Capitals history.
But the addition of the new talent - Jagr had been one of the league's foremost scorers - took Washington only as far as the first round of last year's playoffs, where the team was beaten 4-2 by the Tampa Bay Lighting.
"We could not have asked for more from Robert Lang over the past two seasons," Capitals general manager George McPhee said. "He has been a terrific player for our club, and we consider him as the best free-agent signing in the team's history.
"We have given Robert a chance to compete for the Stanley Cup while adding a good young player and two valuable draft choices to our organization."
The Capitals, whose principal owner is AOL executive Ted Leonsis, are last in the NHL's Southeast Division with 19 wins, 34 losses, eight ties and two overtime losses.
Three times earlier this year the team made trades designed to slash payroll and rebuild. It dealt captain Steve Konowalchuk to the Colorado Avalanche, Jagr to the New York Rangers and Peter Bondra to the Ottawa Senators.
Lang has played 640 games and has 173 goals and 289 assists. The 33-year-old Czech won a gold medal at the 1998 Olympics. His best regular season was in 2000-01, when he had 32 goals and 48 assists for 80 points, a total he is on pace to top this year.
Lang came into the league in 1992-93 with the Los Angeles Kings and spent four seasons with the team. In 1996-97, he played in the Czech league before returning to the NHL, playing for Boston and Pittsburgh in 1997-98. He spent the next four years with Pittsburgh before coming to Washington as a free agent.
Fleischmann, 19, is playing in his second season with Moose Jaw of the WHL, ranking second on the team in goals (28), assists (41) and points (69) in 53 games.
Fleishmann also ranks among league leaders in goals (16th), assists (12th) and points (13th).