The Washington Capitals have just pulled off a brilliant move, one that to their fan base will seem like a stroke of pure genius from general manager Brian MacLellan but one that has also already caused some personalities around the National Hockey League to cry foul.
The Washington Capitals have just officially announced the signing of a Stanley Cup Champion, a veteran defenseman with well over a decade of National Hockey League experience under his belt, and one that is intimately familiar with the Capitals organization, the Capitals have signed none other than Brooks Orpik. Now you might be wondering why in the world the Capitals would bring back Orpik when you consider the circumstances of the how he was traded from the team just a few weeks ago, but as mentioned before this is a work of art from MacLellan.
The Capitals traded Orpik in late June to the Colorado Avalanche as part of a package deal that also sent goaltender Philipp Grubauer to the Avalanche. That deal only netted the Capitals a second round pick but the real value was unloading the salary cap hit of $5.5 million that the Capitals had to commit to Orpik for the 2018 - 2019 NHL regular season, a move that gave MacLellan the flexibility to get defenseman John Carlson under contract long term. Little did we know however that there was an added benefit to this deal waiting in the wings for Washington.
As expected the Avalanche would go on to use one of their buyouts on Orpik following the trade deal, a move that madet he 37 year old veteran an unrestricted free agent. What we could not have expected however is that Orpik and the Cpaitals would then turn around and work out a new deal together, one at a much more team friendly cap hit, and one that would allow Orpik to fit within the new salary structure of the Washington Capitals.
"Brooks has been a valuable player and a great mentor for our young players and we are thrilled to bring him back to our organization," said MacLellan as per NHL.com. "We feel his leadership and competitiveness on and off the ice will be welcomed back to our group."
According to the official press release from the Capitals the new deal for Orpik will pay the veteran blue liner a salary of $1 million on his one year deal, although the Capitals have disclosed that there is an additional $500,000 in performance bonuses that Orpik can earn on top of his salary. At this time it's unclear what those bonuses are attached to but I would imagine that the number of games he will play in both the regular season and the playoffs could potentially be among the bonuses put into the structure of this deal. No word on if this is a one way or two way deal but given the salary cut Orpik accepted I assume he got a one way contract here, but that is pure speculation.
Some, like New York Rangers insider Larry Brooks have been quick to point out that looks an awful lot like circumvention, and it certainly does look a little fishy, but it appears at this time that the NHL is fine with the very crafty moves from MacLellan and the Capitals.
Orpik will now enter the 5th year of his career as a Washington Capital and will get a chance to break the 1,000 games played mile stone( he currently sits at 982.