By Bill Sands
It may not be the Tom Wilson signing that we’re all waiting for, but the Washington Capitals are bringing back another piece from their Stanley Cup winning roster. The team announced Tuesday that they’ve re-signed veteran defenseman Brooks Orpik to a one-year deal, worth $1 million.
After having a rough regular season, Orpik rebounded nicely in the spring and was a crucial component of the playoff run, bringing a physical presence to the blue line, eating up valuable minutes on the penalty kill, and even scoring the game-winning goal in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Finals. Orpik is a veteran presence with years of experience, and his knowledge and wisdom should hopefully help the development of youngsters like Christian Djoos and Lucas Johansen.
When the Capitals shipped Orpik out as part of the trade involving Philipp Grubauer, it was seen as a necessary evil. For all his value, Orpik’s $5.5 million cap hit was simply too much to justify when the Caps still needed to re-sign John Carlson. Bringing him back on a much more affordable deal is the best of both worlds, as the Caps benefit from Orpik’s assets without having to pay an arm and a leg. Don’t feel too bad for Brooks, as he’ll still be making several million dollars thanks to his buyout from the Colorado Avalanche.
Orpik is getting older and it’s not clear how much gas is left in the tank, but for the time being, the Caps have picked up a veteran presence for a very reasonable price. At this point, the only players missing from the Capitals’ Stanley Cup Final team are Grubauer and forward Jay Beagle – who was picked up in free agency by the Vancouver Canucks. Beagle, with his excellent face-off statistics will be some tough shoes to fill, but securing Orpik was some shrewd business by the Capitals organization.