Another unsuccessful year has come and gone for the Washington Capitals. After entering the season and post-season with high hopes, they ultimately failed to achieve what many thought they could this year – win the Stanley Cup. They were forced to watch the team that eliminated them, the Pittsburgh Penguins, move on and win the cup in consecutive seasons.
The Washington Capitals Need to Part Ways with Brooks Orpik
Entering the off-season, general manager Brian MacLellan knew he would have some tough decisions to make with some big names expecting some big contracts. Players like T.J. Oshie, Evgeny Kuznetsov, and Andre Burakovsky needed new contracts, just to name a few. Not to mention the stress that came along with the expansion draft, which saw young defenceman, Nate Schmidt, get picked off by the newly established Vegas Golden Knights.
With locking up Oshie, Dmitry Orlov, and a few others, now comes time for MacLellan to look at potential trades. Moves that will benefit the team in their never-ending quest to make it to the third round. The Washington Capitals need to part ways with Brooks Orpik.
Brooks Orpik has been around the game for a very long time. He was drafted by the Penguins in 2000, and made his debut in 2002. That’s a 15-year NHL career, putting him at age 36 and turning 37 later this year.
With the way the game is played today, it’s tough to play at that age. Everything happens a lot quicker and for guys like Orpik, it’s tough to keep up. He’s consistently one of, if not the slowest player on the ice. That hurts a team like Washington whose goal is to go deep into the playoffs.
What they need is a younger, quicker defenceman (see Nate Schmidt) who can play the 17:47 Orpik was logging on average this past season.
Of course Orpik brings the physical game that is rare nowadays. However, there’s a reason why it’s rare nowadays. Players are quick and can avoid hits much easier. This often leaves Orpik flat-footed and vulnerable to defensive errors.
With another two years on his contract, it doesn’t make sense to hold onto this aging veteran.
Although Orpik has been strong physically, and not too bad defensively, his play doesn’t warrant him being a key-factor to this club. He was second on the team in blocked shots behind Karl Alzner. Alzner was the better version of Orpik for the Capitals. He put up one fewer point last season, but was better defensively. If Orpik isn’t the best defensive blue-liner, and isn’t good offensively, what does he really contribute to the team that makes him essential?
If Orpik isn’t the best defensive player on the team, he shouldn’t be making the sort of money he does.
As previously mentioned, the Capitals have some decision-making to do this off-season. They have to shuffle some money around and cough up enough dough to keep their young stars around. What they don’t need, however, is the $5.5 million cap hit that Orpik brings with him.
Some other players who make $5.5 million are Justin Faulk, and Nick Foligno. Faulk is arguably the best player on the Carolina Hurricanes, and Foligno is the captain of the Columbus Blue Jackets. Orpik shouldn’t be making the same amount of money for playing worse hockey.
Orpik is no doubt a defensive defenceman, but only putting up 14 points – 0 of them being goals, is not good enough. Not for $5.5 million. Washington needs that money to have more flexibility when it comes to re-signing key players and potentially free agents. It’s due to a contract like Orpik’s that made it impossible to negotiate with guys like Justin Williams and Kevin Shattenkirk. Not saying that they’d definitely get either player, but it would’ve been much more plausible.
Right now Orpik is a big hit, who offers a small punch.