Capitals’ Trotz is Planning to Start Season With Orpik in Top 4

trotzWith the losses of Kevin Shattenkirk and Karl Alzner in free agency and Nate Schmidt to the Vegas Golden Knights in the expansion draft, the Capitals have a hole to fill on their defense. Salary cap restrictions due to long-term extensions for T.J. Oshie, Dmitry Orlov, and Evgeny Kuznetsov and short-term contracts for Phillipp Grubauer, Andre Burakovsky, and Brett Connolly also handcuffed the Capitals into making a trade for a top-four defenseman to replace Schmidt. Schmidt was projected to be John Carlson‘s defense partner on the second pairing. 

The Caps couldn’t even afford to keep Marcus Johansson and were forced to deal him for a bag of picks in a trade with the New Jersey Devils. While most people talked about young Christian Djoos, Madison Bowey, or the veteran Taylor Chorney into filling Schmidt’s shoes, none of them have proved to Trotz that they are ready for top four responsibility yet.

That forces Trotz to start the season with veteran defenseman Brooks Orpik starting the year as Carlson’s partner. The two were partnered together for the majority of the 2014-15 season and the beginning of the 2015-16 season until Orpik got hurt on November 10 and missed the next 40 games. Orpik was still a rock on defense when healthy with 125 hits and 102 blocked shots for the year. While playing with Carlson, Orpik had 192 blocked shots, 306 hits, and 11 takeaways, though he did give away the puck 37 times. He finished that year with a +5 rating. With Orpik, Carlson came in 10th in Norris Trophy voting with 11 goals and 55 points while playing all 82 games. Last year, he led the Capitals and was 5th in the league with a +32 rating and also played a key role on the penalty kill, averaging 2:24 per game. He helped the Capitals mentor the young defensemen like Schmidt, as well as Dmitry Orlov, who was right behind him with a +30 rating last year.

With Orpik starting with Carlson, Taylor Chorney will likely anchor the third defense pair, unless the Capitals are willing to start two rookie defensemen on the same pairing. Signed to a 5-year contract in 2014, Orpik has helped improved a Capitals defense that finished 22nd in the league in 2013-14 to seventh to second to first last season.

This should be a message for Djoos, Bowey, Aaron Ness, and everyone else who could take Orpik’s spot later this year that they have to be better.

Related Articles:
Brooks Orpik’s Future Could Be the Key to the Caps’ Offseason
Solving the Brooks Orpik Puzzle
No Matter How Burdensome His Contract Is, Brooks Orpik is an Asset on the Blue Line

By Harrison Brown

About Harrison Brown

Harrison is a diehard Caps fan and a hockey fanatic with a passion for sports writing. He attended his first game at age 8 and has been a season ticket holder since the 2010-2011 season. His fondest Caps memory was seeing T.J. Oshie's hat-trick​ during Game 1 of the Caps' second round playoff series against Pittsburgh in 2016. In his spare time, he enjoys travel, photography, and hanging out with his two dogs. Follow Harrison on Twitter @HarrisonB927077
This entry was posted in Barry Trotz, Coaching, Data and Analytics, Defense, Free Agency, Games, Lineups, Management, NHL, Penalty Kill, Players, Roster Moves, Washington Capitals and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Capitals’ Trotz is Planning to Start Season With Orpik in Top 4

  1. Pingback: For The Capitals, It’s All About Survival Right Now | NoVa Caps

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