Bringing Back Orpik Will Hinder Caps’ Prospect Development

Posted July 24, 2018

(Caps Outsider)

The Caps re-signed defenseman Brooks Orpik to a one-year $1 million contract on Tuesday. This comes after trading Orpik, along with goaltender Philipp Grubauer, to the Colorado Avalanche for a second round pick (Kody Clark) at the draft this year. The move was mainly to shed Orpik’s salary, which Colorado bought out.

With Orpik back in Washington, players like Madison BoweyAaron NessTyler LewingtonLucas Johansen and Jonas Siegenthaler will be competing for one spot instead of two, especially since Orpik played almost every game last season. This doesn’t bode well for developing younger players, unless Orpik sees more time as a healthy scratch.

Instead of signing Orpik, they could have tried what they did last season – play the rookies, and if they work out, great. If not, make a move to bring in veterans, like they did with Michal Kempny and Jakub Jerabek. By signing Orpik now, the Caps have essentially told their defensive prospects, “We already know what you bring to the table, and you are not yet ready.” If the Caps had given the young blue liners a chance in season before making this move, it would not have been as big of a deal, but doing it now is not a good sign for the prospects.

As for Orpik himself, he is not an NHL-caliber defenseman anymore. While he is nowhere near worth his previous salary cap hit of $5.5 million, as evident by nobody picking him up on waivers prior to his buyout.

via @Ineffectivemath

As shown above, when Orpik is on the ice, the Caps are allowing more shots and taking less shots per hour when he is on the ice. While Orpik is not someone you expect to put up points, he is still one of the worst point-producing defenseman in the entire league.

Next, just about everyone on the team takes more shots and allows fewer when they are not on the ice with Orpik.

via @Inefectivemath

And just looking at the other defenseman, the difference is clear. Christian Djoos, represented by his number (29), was primarily with Orpik in the second half of the season and in the playoffs after the acquisition of Kempny. The difference is staggering.

via @Inefectivemath

The two main things that Orpik “brings to the table” are his penalty killing abilities and that he clears the crease. While this has already been debunked, it is worth revisiting again.

via @Inefectivemath

via @Inefectivemath

The graph on top is the five-on-five shot rates against the Caps while Orpik is on the ice, while the bottom one is without him on the ice. The red area shows where shots are coming from at a higher frequency. When Orpik is on the ice, the Caps goaltenders are seeing more shots from the slot and the crease area than when he is not on the ice.

via @Inefectivemath

via @Inefectivemath

The same is true on the penalty kill. Orpik is not what he is advertised to be. The Caps are allowing more shots from high danger areas when Orpik is on the ice than when he is not.

The Caps brining back Orpik may be good for the locker room, and may seem good as they’ll be returning all six defenseman, but it will cost them on the ice and hinder the development of prospects.