NoVa Caps has been preparing key “player previews” for the upcoming season as the Washington Capitals begin to gear up for the start of training camp in two weeks. Today, we continue our previews with defenseman Brooks Orpik.
2016-17 Season Recap
The third season of his five-year contract signed in free agency in 2014, 2016-17 was at times, a tough one for the veteran blueliner. While not much of an offensive player, Orpik did manage to record 14 assists in 79 games played, with a plus-32 rating (which led the Capitals). However, it was clear at times throughout the season that the soon-to-be 37-year old defsnseman (September 26) had lost a step. While mostly solid in his own end, Orpik was at times, caught out of position and turned the puck over 26 times. However, he did block 132 shots, which was good enough for second on the Capitals. After playing in the Top 4 in his first two seasons with the Caps, Orpik was relegated to the third defense-pairing, averaging the third-lowest ice time of his career of just 17:47 minutes.
In 13 playoff games, Orpik recorded two assists, but a minus-7 rating, and averaged just 15:56 of ice time.
Brooks Orpik’s Top Play of 2016-17
With the departures of key blueliners Nate Schmidt, Karl Alzner, and trade deadline acquisition Kevin Shattenkirk this summer, Orpik will likely see more minutes this season with the likely addition of two young defensemen. While Orpik is not expected to contribute much offensively, he will likely see penalty kill time, and will likely be called upon by head coach Barry Trotz to become a mentor to the young additions on the backend, much like he has done with Dmitry Orlov and Schmidt the last few seasons.
General Manager opted not to buy out Orpik’s contract and salary cap hit ($5.5 million), despite the team’s lack of cap space this offseason, citing Orpik’s leadership and experience as two of the biggest reasons why he kept the veteran rearguard.
More of this:
While he may have lost a step, Orpik can still be a contributor defensively most of the time. He has been one of the Caps’ best shot blockers since he arrived, and will need to continue to be sharp in his own end. He is also a physical blueliner, and must continue to be to continue to be an effective player for the Caps.
Less of this:
As mentioned above, Orpik was at times, caught out of position and also turned the puck over frequently last season. With the Caps losing both Schmidt and Alzner, Orpik simply won’t be able to afford doing so as much this season. He will need to be more responsible with the puck and be sharp position-wise, especially with the likelihood he will be paired with a rookie blueliner. In his second season with the Caps, Orpik missed just over 40 games due to injury, and will need to stay healthy and in the lineup, especially given the losses on the blueline.
Key Goals for the 2017-18 Season:
With so many losses on the backend, Orpik will need to be solid defensively this season if the Caps’ defense is going to be effective. As an alternate captain and veteran defenseman, he will be relied on to provide leadership and guidance to any young defensemen that make the team and will need to reduce the amount of turnovers he commits. In essence, Orpik will need:
- become a mentor to any young defensemen and continue to be a locker room voice for the Capitals
- reduce turnovers and be sharp when it comes to positioning
- continue to be a physical force in his own end
- stay healthy
Other Player Previews:
Washington Capitals Player Preview: Andre Burakovsky
Washington Capitals Player Preview: T.J. Oshie
Washington Capitals Player Preview: Tom Wilson
Washington Capitals Player Preview: Lars Eller
Washington Capitals Player Preview: Matt Niskanen
Washington Capitals Player Preview: Dmitry Orlov
Washington Capitals Player Preview: Evgeny Kuznetsov
Washington Capitals Player Preview: John Carlson
Washington Capitals Player Preview: Nicklas Backstrom
Washington Capitals Player Preview: Brett Connolly
Washington Capitals Player Preview: Braden Holtby
Washington Capitals Player Preview: Devante Smith-Pelly
Washington Capitals Player Preview: Philipp Grubauer