The Pittsburgh Penguins are due to endure a massive overhaul this summer.
With a number of players set to become unrestricted free agents, and their payroll being bloated as it is, the likelihood that they’ll be able to retain all of them is slim-to-none.
Here’s a look at the list:
- D, Deryk Engelland
- D, Matt Niskanen
- D, Brooks Orpik
- F, Brian Gibbons
- F, Tanner Glass
- F, Marcel Goc
- F, Jussi Jokinen
- F, Taylor Pyatt
- F, Lee Stempniak
- F, Joe Vitale
- G, Tomas Vokoun
Niskanen will arguably be Pittsburgh’s top priority to re-sign this offseason, along with Gibbons and Jokinen. However, defenseman Brooks Orpik may no longer have his home games at the CONSOL Energy Center anymore.
Pittsburgh is all Orpik knows. Selected by the Pens in the first-round (18th overall) of the 2000 NHL Entry Draft, Orpik has played 11 seasons, all with the Pittsburgh organization. But because Orpik will be 34-years-old at the start of next season, and the Pens’ having a pool of defensive prospects waiting their turn, his return seems to be doubtful.
Orpik’s been a valued member of the Pittsburgh Penguins. Serving as assistant captain and stabilizing the Pens’ defensive corps during rough times before the arrivals of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, Orpik’s dismissal, in a way, is a somber departure. And even though there remains an outside chance he’ll come back on board, his injury riddled season didn’t really help his case. Which is strange, given Orpik’s been one of the more durable, reliable Penguins.
Missing time due to a concussion sustained in the aftermath of a sucker punch delivered by Bruins’ forward Shawn Thornton back in December, Orpik’s most recent injury may be the reason as to why he won’t be back.
Unable to perform in five games following a mysterious ailment suffered in Game 4 of the first-round this past postseason, Orpik returned in Game 4 of the second-round but left after just 5:15-minutes of ice-time. Although the injury that forced him out was unrelated to the one that cost him five games prior, Josh Yohe of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported that Orpik was seen wearing a brace on his knee and limping noticeably following the Pens’ disappointing Game 7 ouster.
Just saw Brooks Orpik. Limping badly. Brace on his knee. I’ve heard the injury is a serious one. Likely the end of his Pens career.
— Josh Yohe (@JoshYohe_Trib) May 14, 2014
The specific details surrounding Orpik’s latest injury is unknown, but given Yohe’s tweet, one can assume his condition will cause him to hit the open market, and stay there until another team offers him a contract. And if this is the conclusion to Orpik’s career as a Penguin, you have to feel for the guy, considering this is probably not the way he would’ve liked to go out.
Of course, there’s always a possibility Orpik can re-sign, but given the circumstances, we can assume the Pens will move in another direction.
If he’s back, great. But if he’s not, its been a pleasure to watch the man’s diligence for so long.