NHL clears Capitals on trading, signing Orpik after buyout

Associated Press
NBC Sports

ARLINGTON, Va. (AP) — The NHL questioned the Washington Capitals about re-signing Brooks Orpik after trading him to Colorado and cleared the Stanley Cup champions of any wrongdoing.

General manager Brian MacLellan said the league questioned the Capitals for trading the veteran defenseman and then bringing him back at a cheaper salary after the Avalanche bought him out. MacLellan said the Capitals were above board in everything they did and would face no consequences.

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”They put us through a thorough questioning,” MacLellan said Friday. ”We did everything above board, and we answered the questions honestly. There was no repercussions, so I think we’re good.”

In an email to The Associated Press, deputy commissioner Bill Daly confirmed MacLellan’s assessment that the league investigated Washington and found nothing to be amiss with Orpik’s situation.

At the draft in June, the Capitals traded Orpik and backup goaltender Philipp Grubuaer to Colorado for a second-round pick, a move made largely to clear salary-cap space. Avalanche GM Joe Sakic said almost immediately after the trade that he’d be buying out the final season of Orpik’s deal that carried a salary of $4.5 million and a cap hit of $5.5 million.

Orpik signed with the Capitals about a month later, a one-year deal worth $1 million with $500,000 in incentives. If the 37-year-old defenseman reaches those incentives, he’ll combine to make the same amount he would have if he weren’t bought out.

MacLellan assumed some rival teams wondered about the Capitals’ handling of the situation but was never worried that they broke any rules. A team isn’t allowed to re-sign a player after buying him out, but because Colorado went through that process, Washington signing Orpik was legal.

”We did everything by the book,” MacLellan said. ”We did everything straight.”

Follow AP Hockey Writer Stephen Whyno on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SWhyno

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