The Washington Capitals announced today that Brooks Orpik underwent an arthroscopic procedure on his right knee and will be out four to six weeks. Orpik had been placed on long-term injured reserve earlier this month, and looks like he’ll stay there for another while. It’s not clear exactly if the recovery timeline is from now or when he first suffered the injury, but it seems as though there was some delay in deciding whether he would have the surgery. Regardless, the team will be without his services for at least a few weeks.
It’s been an interesting few months for Orpik to say the least, starting with the Stanley Cup championship at the end of last season. He was then deemed to expensive to keep given the new contracts Washington needed to hand out to players like John Carlson, so was included with Philipp Grubauer in a trade to the Colorado Avalanche. The Avalanche quickly put Orpik on the market before buying him out, with GM Joe Sakic not wanting to keep the expensive and aging defenseman in their speedy group. After becoming an unrestricted free agent again following the buyout, Orpik re-joined the Capitals on a much smaller contract that includes performance bonuses for games played.
Those bonuses were set at 20 and 40 games played, and at least the latter now seems in doubt given Orpik has suited up only ten times this season. The 38-year old defenseman played a larger part for the team at the start of the season than many had expected, but with this injury and the emergence of other options like Jonas Siegenthaler there may not be a ton of minutes waiting for him when he recovers. More likely Orpik will serve as a depth defenseman with plenty of experience whenever he returns, while the Capitals try to transition into the next wave of young blueliners that can help them get back to the playoffs.