The Washington Capitals are pressed right up against the salary cap this season, and because of this have been forced to use long-term injured reserve once again. Brooks Orpik has been placed on LTIR, meaning the veteran defenseman will not be able to play for at least another six games as he works he way back from a lower-body injury. The team is also missing John Carlson from practice today with a lower-body injury, meaning they have recalled Jonas Siegenthaler and Aaron Ness from the minor leagues to fill in. According to CapFriendly’s calculations, the team is now exceeding the upper salary cap ceiling by using the flexibility created by LTIR.
Orpik, 38, went through an interesting series of transactions this summer that started when he was included in a trade to the Colorado Avalanche. The Avalanche quickly explained that they had only taken his contract on in order to keep the price of goaltender Philipp Grubauer low, and tried to trade Orpik to someone who would actually use him. When they couldn’t find a taker, Colorado bought out the remainder of Orpik’s contract and allowed him to seek out a new deal on the open market. That deal came back with the Capitals, for the low price of $1MM plus some performance bonuses. That was enough, given he is still earning $1.5MM from the Avalanche this year and next.
Though he was much less expensive this time around, the Capitals haven’t been pushing Orpik to the press box as a veteran extra. Instead, he’s played in ten games already this season and has recorded two points. That even included a goal, his first regular season tally since the 2015-16 season. Even though his minutes have been reduced, Orpik is still a legitimate piece of the Washington blue line and will be needed at other times this season. For now though, he’ll have to wait on the sideline and recover while the team inserts young Siegenthaler into the lineup.