The Washington Capitals went into free agency with the goal of addressing the blue line and acquiring at least one top-shelf defenseman and they believe they found one in Brooks Orpik who signed a five year deal with the Capitals on the first day of free agency.
Orpik, 33, will receive $27.5 million over the life of the deal as the veteran defenseman cashed in on a day when general managers are throwing around cash like it’s Monopoly money. He has played his entire 11-year career with the Pittsburgh Penguins where he scored two goals and had 13 points and was a minus-3 with 46 penalty minutes last season.
“We are very excited to welcome Brooks to Washington,” Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan said. “We feel Brooks’ leadership and experience will greatly enhance our defense for years to come. Brooks plays tough minutes against the opposition’s best players.”
Orpik is a big 6-2, 219-pounder with a left-handed shot, but you have to wonder how much gas he has left in the tank and if he has enough skating ability to fit in today’s NHL that places an emphasis on puck-moving defenseman rather than the slow-footed and stay-at-home blue-liners like Orpik.
However, Capitals head coach Todd Reirden is excited to add a player with his experience and ability, especially on the penalty-killing unit.
“I think I pride myself in my ability to form relationships with the players where I can challenge them and continue to force them to improve, Reirden tells The Washington Post. Brooks is a guy that, prior to us working together, started at just over 18 minutes and now is capped out at his average of 22 minutes and he plays the toughest players, night in and night out.”
“He’s been a part of the top penalty-killing unit and he’s been the best penalty killer the past three years, four years that I’ve been involved in Pittsburgh. I think he brings that ability.”