The Pittsburgh Penguins have spent a great deal of time this summer making sure that the core group of their loaded roster remains intact for the next several years, with new contracts headed in the direction of Kris Letang and Evgeni Malkin, among others. Now it’s time for them to add one more to the mix.
That one is Brooks Orpik.
Orpik has been a figure of consistency on a Pittsburgh blue line that really isn’t all that impressive. The Penguins have notable names on their blue line, but their actual defensive strength lies primarily in the game of Orpik, who has been a mainstay on this team since 2003.
There’s little doubt that Orpik is a key piece of the Penguins. He’s a terrific contrast when playing next to Letang, who is shoddy at times in his own end. Which leaves Orpik, the defensive defenseman that he is, to pick up the slack in that department.
He’s also a leader in the locker room. Orpik wears an ‘A’ for the Pens and brings plenty of experience to the table. He’s a valuable entity for them in multiple ways. Which is why it’s time for the Penguins to look at an extension for the veteran blue liner.
Of course, that’s easier said than done. Orpik’s deal will expire at the end of the year, and he’s probably going to earn a raise from the $3.75 million he’s currently carrying as a cap hit. A modest raise wouldn’t be anything unreasonable, as Orpik is a valuable enough presence on the blue line.
Whether or not the Penguins can afford to sign him long term, however, remains to be seen. They’re right up against the cap right now, and have several players now signed to long term deals. Of course, the cap is going up, though, which could afford them the space to be able to sign him. If he hits the open market, though, a team with cap space could drive up the bidding out of Pittsburgh’s range. Which is why an extension now makes sense.