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Orpik: Lower body injury 'not going to kill me'


Orpik: Lower body injury 'not going to kill me'

In an interview that lasted just over 3 minutes, Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik described his lower body injury as “frustrating” or “frustrated” five times while keeping the exact nature of his injury under wraps.

Orpik practiced with the Caps on Wednesday but will not join his teammates on their trips to Montreal and Winnipeg, where they will face the Canadiens on Thursday night and the Jets on Saturday.  Instead, Orpik will remain in Arlington and skate with conditioning coach Mark Nemish, missing his 10th and 11th games due to the same injury.

 Asked how he felt after practicing on Wednesday, Orpik said, “I don’t know, to be honest with you. It’s a little bit better. That’s the frustrating thing, it’s slow healing. I’m just kind of waiting.”

Orpik said his only timetable is to return to the lineup when he is “close to 100 percent” and when asked if he is surprised his “lower body injury” is taking so long to heal, he became a bit cryptic.

“Yes and no,” he said. “Not when I first got it. But once the doctors figured out what it was, then I guess I wasn’t so surprised. The frustrating thing was not even knowing how I got it.”

Orpik last played on Nov. 10 in Detroit when he pulled himself from the game after just 6:49 of ice time. The Caps lost that game 1-0 on the strength of Petr Mrazek’s 38 saves, but in the nine games since then, the Caps have gone 7-1-1 in Orpik’s absence.

“He’s just a little frustrated it’s not coming around as quick,” Caps coach Barry Trotz said, “but we have a little bit of wiggle room to allow him to get back. He wants to be in; he would have liked to be in weeks ago.

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“We’ll always do what’s best for the player, but knowing Brooks’ makeup he wants to be back as soon as possible. This (17-5-1 record) allows us to keep him a little more patient.”

Trotz has repeatedly said Orpik’s injury is not serious and that he would be in the lineup if this were the Stanley Cup playoffs.  

Asked if he thought his injury is serious, Orpik said, “I don’t know what you mean by serious. It’s not going to kill me and it doesn’t need surgery. It’s probably not serious, but it’s frustrating. You don’t like missing any games, let alone having it go on this long.

“I keep setting myself back if I try to come back too early. That’s probably the tough thing. Feeling better and wanting to push it and you’re not allowed to. That’s probably the more frustrating thing. But I’d probably be more frustrated if I came back too early and set myself all the way back to square one.”

Practice scuffling: Fourth-line forwards Tom Wilson and Michael Latta got into a little scrap near the end of Wednesday's practice. Off the ice the two share an apartment.  

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Brooks Orpik's time in Washington may not be over after all

Brooks Orpik's time in Washington may not be over after all

Friday's trade with the Colorado Avalanche seemed to mark the end of Brooks Orpik's time with the Washington Capitals. But that may not actually be the case.

Trading away Orpik also meant trading away his $5.5 million cap hit. That is not an insignificant amount of money especially for a team trying to re-sign defenseman John Carlson to a big-money contract.

But Orpik will not be playing out the final year of his contract in Colorado. The Avalanche placed Orpik on unconditional waivers Saturday for the purpose of a buyout, according to Sportsnet's Chris Johnston.

CapFriendly has the details of the buyout. The Avalanche will pay Orpik $3 million and take a cap hit of $2.5 million in the 2018-19 season and $1.5 million in the 2019-20 season.

So why would Colorado agree to take Orpik just to buy him out and take on dead cap space? Because by acquiring him, it lowered the cost of the Grubauer trade.

What this means for Brooks Orpik is that he will become a free agent, free to sign with anyone for the upcoming season. Including Washington.

For a 37-year-old defenseman who does not boast great mobility or speed, a $5.5 million cap hit was a bit too steep for the Caps who were very close to the cap ceiling last season and who need that extra money to re-sign their free agents. But the team did value Orpik's leadership and that could be especially important as young defensemen Madison Bowey and Christian Djoos continue developing plus prospects Jonas Siegenthaler, Lucas Johansen and Connor Hobbs all try to work themselves into contention for a spot on the NHL roster.

If Orpik does return, it will be a masterstroke for general manager Brian MacLellan. MacLellan freed up a lot of cap space to re-sign Carlson without having to buy out Orpik's contract, but could still possibly keep him on the roster at a much-reduced cost.

After a strong playoff performance, there may be other teams vying for Orpik's services next season. Getting traded to get bought out likely isn't a good feeling, but considering he just won a Stanley Cup in Washington, the defensive guru Todd Reirden is expected to be promoted to head coach and that re-signing with the Caps would mean not moving his family for what could very possibly and will very likely be the last contract of his NHL career, there are a lot of reasons why it would make sense for both the team and the player if Orpik stayed with the Caps.


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2018 NHL Draft: Caps add 7 prospects, 4 from WHL


2018 NHL Draft: Caps add 7 prospects, 4 from WHL

The Caps made seven selections in the 2018 Draft this weekend. The group featured three defensemen, three forwards and a goalie. Interestingly, a couple of the picks have fathers who enjoyed lengthy NHL careers.

Meet the newest prospects:

1st round, 31st overall: D Alexander Alexeyev, WHL, 6'4", 196 pounds

The Caps' first first-round pick sine 2016, Alexeyev is a smart two-way defenseman with good size.

Read more on him here.

2nd round, 46th overall (from Florida, via New Jersey): D Martin Fehervary, Allsvenskan (Sweden), 6'2", 194 pounds

A physical style defenseman who is very strong in his own end, but does not have much offensive upside. Sort of a throwback style of play which makes him a surprise pick this high.

2nd round, 47th overall (From Colorado): F Kody Clark, OHL, 6'1", 179 pounds

Kody Clark boasts an NHL pedigree as the son of Wendel Clark, a first-round pick of the Toronto Maple Leafs who recorded 330 goals and 564 career points in 763 NHL games.

3rd round, 93rd overall: F Riley Sutter, WHL, 6'3", 203 pounds

Riley Sutter also boasts a strong NHL pedigree as the son of Run Sutter and nephew of Darryl Sutter.

Riley is a power forward who played alongside Caps prospect Garrett Pilon on the Everett Silvertips in the WHL and recorded 53 points in 68 games last season.

4th round, 124th overall: G Mitchell Gibson, NAHL, 6'1", 187 pounds

A Harvard commit, Gibson posted a 1.59 GAA and .935 save percentage in the NAHL last season.

6th round, 161st overall (from Vancouver): D Alex Kannok-Leipert, WHL, 5'11", 194 pounds

The Caps certainly saw something they liked in Kannok-Leipert as they traded up from 186 to get him. That pick, along with a sixth-round pick in 2019, went to Vancouver.

7th round, 217th overall: F Eric Florchuk, WHL, 6'2", 174 pounds

Florchuk was taken with the last pick of the draft.