After signing Brooks Orpik, what are the Capitals doing?

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Washington Capitals seem to be going in the wrong direction.

With a new general manager, a new coaching staff and a seemingly new direction we're going to find out what the new look Washington Capitals are all about this offseason.

Things did not get off to a promising start on the first day of free agency.

The Capitals made their first big move in the Brian MacLellan era and sent a stunning wave of disbelief across the NHL on Tuesday by signing defenseman Brooks Orpik to a five-year, $27 million contract.

At one time Orpik may have very well been worth such an investment. But that time has come and gone, and at this point Orpik's play on the ice is more about the reputation his name still holds and what he did earlier in his career.

He may still have some value in the short-term. But based on the way his play started to decline in Pittsburgh over the past two years and the toll he's put on his body playing one of the most relentless, physical styles of hockey in the league over the past decade it's an investment that is almost destined to fail. Part of the problem Pittsburgh had on its blue line at times last season was too many players that could not move the puck or keep up with faster forwards that could skate past them. Orpik was one of the problems, especially when he wasn't paired alongside Paul Martin.

Now that he's a year older those problems aren't likely to go away. And they're not going to get better over the next five years.

What makes it even more concerning is the direction this seems to point the Capitals in.

Just before the free agency signing period started the team determined that it was going to let Mikhail Grabovski, a talented two-way center still close to his prime years, leave because it did not want to meet his contract demands of nearly $5 million per season.

It sends that message that instead of investing in skill, the Capitals are determined to make a larger investment in experience, toughness and physicality.

It's pretty much the exact opposite direction they need to be going in.

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