Mar 11, 2014; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik (44) applies a head lock on Washington Capitals center Jay Beagle (83) during a scuffle in the third period at the CONSOL Energy Center. The Penguins won 2-0. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Barry Trotz defends Washington Capitals signing Orpik

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The Washington Capitals drew more than a few raised eyebrows when they signed the generously labeled stay-at-home defenseman Brooks Orpik to a five-year deal annually worth $5.5 million. While Orpik was certain to find a home this summer, it wasn’t expected to be with a contract of such heft and term. Coach Barry Trotz was quick to defend the deal and address said detractors.

Trotz told Alex Prewitt of the Washington Post that the Orpik signing went beyond the numbers.

Unfortunately Trotz uses much of the same vernacular as any other defenders of Orpik and his ilk. They offer intangible evidence for tangible deficiencies. Said Trotz, “Brooks Orpik doesn’t have great points, so why are you paying him that? The things that Brooks Orpik does, you can’t put a value on.”

That’s been the biggest justification offered by those who signed Orpik and Deryk Engelland and other big players with little offensive upside. Unfortunately, those two were the worst defenseman on the Pittsburgh Penguins last year in terms of point production and shot production. In general, the opposition took 55% of the shots taken when Orpik and Engelland were on the ice, per their Corsi-for %. Those are the two worst ratings on the team. Whatever effects Orpik has on the play has little to do with the actual offense required to win hockey games.

Fortunately, Trotz will also have Matt Niskanen, who led the Penguins in the same CF% column. He almost contradicts himself in discussing the Niskanen deal. “We want Matt Niskanen and Matt Green and a five-man attack. We don’t want just our forwards doing the offensive work.” If that’s the case, then why the Orpik signing when you know he has little to offer in that way?

Barry Trotz would be crazy not to defend any player on his roster, and now Brooks Orpik is on his roster. Orpik will have the next five years to prove his new coach right and help the Capitals get back to the playoffs.

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Tags: Washington Capitals