While the Capitals’ Monday night game against the St. Louis Blues will be the 45th of the season for the team, it will be a milestone game for veteran defenseman Brooks Orpik, who will be playing in his 1,000th NHL contest when the two teams take the ice.
Orpik, who has played in just 17 games this season due to injuries (including knee surgery), is in his fifth season with the Capitals, signing a five-year, $27.5 million contract in free agency prior to the 2014-15 season, one of two marquee signings for General Manager Brian MacLellan in his first offseason on the job; Orpik, who has served as an alternate captain in each of his five seasons with the Capitals, was traded to the Colorado Avalanche last summer, before being bought of his previous deal and signing a one-year, $1 million deal to return to the Caps.
Orpik spent the first 703 games of his NHL career with the Pittsburgh Penguins, and has been a steadying presence on the Capitals’ blueline, bringing a physical, shutdown style of play the team had lacked for some time, while also mentoring young defensemen such as Christian Djoos, Madison Bowey, and Jonas Sigenthaler. In 17 games played this season, Orpik has recorded a goal and two assists, with a plus-2 rating while averaging a career-low 15:52 of ice time a night for Head Coach Todd Reirden. In 296 games played with the Capitals, Orpik has a total of four goals and 52 assists for 56 points, with a plus-41 rating and has averaged 19:27 minutes a game. He was a key component in helping the Caps capture the franchise’s first Stanley Cup championship last spring, recording five points in 24 games.
By Michael Fleetwood