AP Photo/Matt Slocum
The Washington Capitals are now out of the Stanley Cup Playoffs and management is now in an evaluation period. Brian MacLellan is evaluating everything he has, and he will have to make some tough decisions within the next couple of months.
One player MacLellan will have to make a tough decision on is Dmitry Orlov. Orlov, 24, is coming off an expiring 2-year contract worth $4 million.
ORLOV – 2015-16 SEASON
Dmitry Orlov had his most productive year as an NHL pro this season. He netted 8 goals and 21 points and he played in all 82 regular season games. Orlov played in 11 playoff games for the Capitals, and he tallied only 1 assist in those games.
When John Carlson and Brooks Orpik were injured at various points in the season, Orlov’s icetime was raised. By the end of the regular season, Orlov was ranked 4th among Capitals defenseman in total time on ice (1314:10). While he gained a lot of icetime, his average time on ice per game was ranked 6th best among Capitals blueliners (16:01).
Capitals fans saw the best and worst of Dmitry Orlov. At times, he was shifty with the puck and he gave trouble to opposing teams with his quick pace.
In other moments, especially late in the season and into the playoffs, Orlov really struggled against speed. He became a healthy scratch in some games for his poor play.
WHAT IS ORLOV WORTH?
Brian MacLellan has to be careful with Dmitry Orlov’s next contract. He has other areas of the need for the Capitals that he needs to address. He also has a handful of restricted-free agents that need to be re-signed.
Orlov had a career season and he deserves to be rewarded for that. But there is some room for his game to grow. At 24, Orlov is still young and still has some upside. He missed a year of action in 2014-15, which certainly did not help his cause for his individual development.
While Orlov missed the entire 2014-15 season, he already has over 200 NHL games under his belt. He is a home grown defenseman, as he was drafted by the Capitals in the 2nd round of the 2009 NHL Draft.
The Capitals probably do not want to give Orlov a long-term deal just yet, because there is still room for Orlov’s game to grow. He needs to see more time on the powerplay or penalty kill in order for Capitals management to get more of an accurate projection on what his true making is as an NHL defenseman.
The best thing for both sides is for Orlov to receive a bridge contract that is similar to the one that just expired. Orlov can continue to grow his game, and he can show the Capitals why they should eventually sign him for the long haul. On the Capitals side, they can give him additional responsibility on this next contract. They can give him additional time on the powerplay and penalty kill, to see if he can do well in those new roles.
PROJECTED NEXT CONTRACT
TERM: 1-3 YEARS
MONEY: $2-4 MILLION PER SEASON
By: George Foussekis