“The things that Brooks Orpik does you can’t put a value on.” That’s what Barry Trotz said in July, and he was wrong. You can put a value on it, and that value is $27.5 million over 5 years.
In year one of his contract, Orpik did well enough– but this was never about the player so much as the wacky expectations foisted upon him.
|21:48||Average time on ice per game|
|50.5%||Shot attempt percentage during 5v5|
|50.4%||Goal percentage during 5v5|
Orpik’s on-ice shot-attempt percentage in 10-game running segments, according to War on Ice:
Brooks Orpik ranked third in hits in the entire league with 306, which doesn’t matter. Sure, he was a punishing force on the ice, but that didn’t stop him from allowing opponent shot attempts at the highest rate among all Caps defense and goals at a higher clip than any Caps defensemen except Tim Gleason. We could– and should– qualify that distinction by noting that Orpik played tough minutes and lots of them, but that’s kind of my point. The Capitals asked Orpik to do too much.
I worry that the team may have fetishized the role of a physical stay-at-home defenseman as a result of not really having any in the last decade (Erskine doesn’t count). The more we learrn about hockey, the more we understand that there is little virtue in a player getting shelled just because of the manner in which that player gets shelled (i.e. while hitting dudes).
Other top-minute defensemen in the eastern conference do reliably better against the best forwards than Orpik does. Niskanen too. I can’t help but think that the Caps would see better results if Orpik played slightly softer minutes. That may matter a lot more in coming years, because Orpik isn’t getting any younger.
Orpik is exactly three years older (and like $50 million richer) than I am. On September 26 he’ll be 35, with four more seasons on his contract. Those seasons will test his durability, which his tremendous physical fitness should help, but there is definitely some adversity ahead. The doubters of the Orpik signing (hi, it’s me) weren’t so much concerned with the first year of the contract so much as years three and four, when he’ll be earning $5.5 million at ages 36 and 37.
Then again, if the Capitals nab a conference final or bring a big-ass trophy home in the next couple seasons, it’ll all be worth it. The clock is ticking.
If this all read like a criticism of the situation and not the player, good. That’s the point. Orpik himself is a good player. He’s a curious mix of old-school playing style and new-age conditioning. He’s widely admired in the locker room (as you’ll see below). By all accounts, he’s a Good Dude to have on your team. And he’s totally gonna score a goal (scorpik) next season. I like him; I just don’t like the situation around him.
I’ve got a lot more to say about Orpik, and specifically about what his contract signals about Brian MacLellan’s pitch to get named GM last season, but I think that’s enough for now. Good work in year one.
— Mathias Ask (@MathiasAsk) April 22, 2015
What do you expect from the next four years and $21 million of Orpik’s contract? How long will he be a shutdown defenseman?
Read more: Japers Rink
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