Photo: Chris Gordon
As the temperatures outside reached the 90s, Caps prospects and free agent invitees gathered inside a freezing Kettler Capitals Iceplex Monday for the first day of the team’s annual Development Camp. Afterwards, head coach Barry Trotz met the media. After focusing on the young players who will be Arlington this week, the conversation turned to the recent signings of Brooks Orpik and Matt Niskanen. Orpik’s 5-year, $27.5 million deal has been much maligned, as Orpik is an aging poor possession player.
Last week, new Caps GM Brian MacLellan defended Orpik’s numbers, saying he is relied upon for tough minutes and defensive zone starts. Trotz’s rationale for the signing was a little bit different than MacLellan’s, but probably just as disturbing to the Twitter intelligentsia.
“The effect is not going to be in goals and assists,” Trotz said. “It’s going to be in culture and winning and attitude.”
That set off a mini-firestorm, so here’s the full exchange with Trotz on Orpik.
Do you like the signings of Orpik and Niskanen?
I really do. I know that [MacLellan] has taken some heat on that. One of the things you get that’s most common is everybody looks at points and says ‘Brooks Orpik doesn’t have great points and so why are you paying him that?’ The things that Brooks Orpik does you can’t put a value on. One of the things that’s been common is there hasn’t been a physical, net-front type of defenseman. Who does Alexander Ovechkin play? He’s one of the strongest, most dangerous players in the league and he plays against Brooks Orpik all the time. You need those players. Brooks is also, I think, a great role model for a team that’s really young. We’re not an old team. We’re probably in that window of just entering the prime of their careers and so he’s a really good compliment and a role model and he’s piece that we don’t have.
To me it’s a commitment of ownership and the team, saying ‘You know what, we’re in a good window here. Let’s get the players that we want instead of the players that we’ve got to settle for and get him because he can have an effect.’ The effect is not going to be in goals and assists. It’s going to be in culture and winning and attitude, and that’s what Brooks Orpik does.
I listen to some of the stuff and everybody has their opinion. They can have their opinion. It really doesn’t matter. It’s what we need, what we feel we need. It’s just like Matt Niskanen. We want to get more goals from the backend. We want Matt Niskanen and Green. We want a five-man attack. We don’t want just our forwards doing all the offensive work. The more you can get people active and use your skill level, you’re gonna be able to create some offense and be good defensively.