Dmitry Orlov was drafted by the Capitals in the second-round of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft (55th overall) and was lauded for his offensive potential. Starting his North American career with the Hershey Bears of the American Hockey League (AHL), Orlov appeared in 60 NHL games in 2011-12, showing promise with 19 points (three goals, 16 assists). His quick release and explosive speed made him a key piece of the defense’s future.
Despite an impressive start to his NHL career, Orlov was demoted to the Bears in 2012-13, a lockout-shortened season for the NHL. In 31 games, he registered 17 points (three goals, 14 assists). Once NHL play resumed, Orlov was expected to be recalled and only played five games for the Caps, recording just a single assist.
The next year saw Orlov start the season in Hershey, where he played 11 games and recording nine points (three goals, six assists). However, Orlov was unhappy that he was not getting NHL playing time and subsequently requested a trade with his agent saying:
“Obviously, what Dmitry would like is to be traded, because he has no future in Washington whatsoever, zero chance for him. “I think his value as a player is diminishing with every day and the team is losing valuable time and also ruining his career.”
Rather than risk losing a promising young player, then-Capitals general manager George McPhee recalled Orlov and Orlov played in 54 games, tallying 11 points (three goals, five assists). During the season, former head coach Adam Oates paired Orlov with offensive-minded blueliner Mike Green. This resulted in both defensemen jumping into the offensive play, and it often ended with an odd-man rush the other way. It was clear the two dynamic blueliners needed to be apart. Orlov’s agent, Mark Gandler ultimately rescinded his trade request and Orlov signed a two-year contract extension with the team.
After the season, with the Caps missing the playoffs for the first time in seven years, Orlov traveled to his native Russia to participate in the World Championships. During the tournament, Orlov suffered a broke wrist; an injury that would only make his life difficult. Despite having surgery on the wrist, Orlov contracted an infection and his wrist became weak. As he is a left-handed shot, Orlov’s hockey career suddenly became jeopardized; if his wrist never fully recovered, Orlov’s hockey career would be over.
Throughout the 2014-15 season, one that saw the Capitals’ defense undergo serious changes, Orlov continued to rehab his injury, attending practices and games, but could only watch his teammates; his hunger to play again became fueled even more. After the conclusion of the season, it was announced that Orlov would be able to play again. With the offseason departure of Green, Orlov’s role on the team became more important than ever. Starting the season on the third-pairing, Orlov has thrived under defense coach Todd Reirden, scoring two magnificent goals and adding five assist for seven points in 20 games, putting him on pace for 29 points (eight goals, 21 assists).
Orlov’s goal against the Colorado Avalanche (his first goal in a year and a half) was pure magic and he scored the game-winning goal in a 1-0 win over the Edmonton Oilers Monday night.
Orlov’s future, once filled with uncertainty, now looks very bright. He will join a group of young players that are the future of the Capitals (Evgeny Kuznetsov, Andre Burakovsky, Tom Wilson, Michael Latta, Nate Schmidt, and Hershey player Jakub Vrana) and with a strong start to the season, his rise to greatness has only just begun.
By Michael Fleetwood