When longtime Capital Mike Green departed (inevitably) in free agency this past summer, there was concern that youngsters Dmitry Orlov and Nate Schmidt, the presumed replacements, would have difficulty carrying a full season’s worth of work.
Orlov, in particular, was a question mark because of his struggle recovering from a broken wrist. Schmidt, meanwhile, played 39 games with the Caps, before breaking his shoulder-blade during a conditioning stint to the AHL’s Hershey Bears. While Green was a valuable power play weapon, the Caps had Matt Niskanen and John Carlson to quarterback one of the league’s best power plays. But coming into tonight’s game, Orlov and Schmidt have proven to be more than qualified to replace one of the best defenseman in team history.
While neither has put up monster numbers, both Orlov and Schmidt have contributed to the offensive rush and have played well defensively. Orlov has played all season on the team’s third-pairing, and has three goals, six assists, and nine points coming into tonight’s game; putting him on pace for a career-best 10 goals, 14 assists, and 24 points. Schmidt has recorded one goal, three assists, and four points in 20 game played, putting him on pace for four goals, 12 assists, and 16 points. Schmidt has seen extended playing time with the injury to top-pairing defenseman Brooks Orpik. Green, meanwhile, has just one goal, 10 assists, and 11 points, putting him on pace for four goals, 39 assists, and 43 points. That would be two points less than his total last season. Schmidt and Orlov’s projected point total would be 40 points.
Whatever doubt that may have existed is almost certainly gone. If Schmidt and Orlov can continue to develop into key pieces of the Caps’ future, then Green’s lost production will not be as missed as once thought.
By Michael Fleetwood