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Big-money Brooks: Caps sign Orpik -- five years, $27.5 million

Pittsburgh Penguins v Columbus Blue Jackets - Game Four

COLUMBUS, OH - APRIL 23: Brooks Orpik #44 of the Pittsburgh Penguins controls the puck during Game Four of the First Round of the 2014 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena on April 23, 2014 in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)

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Brooks Orpik is trading sides in a modern rivalry and cashing in -- in a big way.

The Washington Capitals have signed Orpik to a five-year, $27.5 million deal to help stiffen up their blue line.

After playing 11 seasons with the Pittsburgh Penguins and menacing Alex Ovechkin, he’ll be on the same side of the ice with the Washington captain. Caps GM Brian MacLellan lauded Orpik’s other qualities.

“We feel Brooks’ leadership and experience will greatly enhance our defense for years to come,” MacLellan said. “Brooks plays tough minutes against the opposition’s best players.”

While that’s all good and fun, the big story here is the money. At $5.5 million per year for the next five years, the 33-year-old Orpik is going to need to play those tough minutes for a few more years now. There’s no doubt the Caps needed defensive help as it was a major undoing for them, but they have to hope his leadership and tough play can carry them.

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