The Washington Capitals are a little over a month away from training camp. With defenseman Dmitry Orlov still not signed to a contract, the Capitals may need to develop other plans for the defense corps heading into the 2016-17 season.
Orlov is a restricted free agent, and with recent reports connecting him to an opportunity in the KHL, he may decide to venture down that road and not return to Washington in the immediate future.
With Orlov’s future not certain, the Capitals will need to reconfigure their blue-line. They will need to make a trade, or sign an unrestricted free agent.
The 29-year old Alberta native spent the 2015-16 season between the Calgary Flames and Dallas Stars. The veteran defenseman has played the waiting game this offseason, and many thought he would be signed to a team much sooner.
Kris Russell camp is still waiting for a few teams to clear money. Free agency can be a tough waiting game.
— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) August 4, 2016
TSN’s Darren Dreger has reported that Russell’s contract status is contingent on teams shifting out money. Could the Washington Capitals be one of these clubs that is in the running for Russell’s services? The Capitals could be in a bind financially, and may have to shift out a contract in order to fit an extra forward on the roster.
If Dmitry Orlov decides to play in the KHL, could Russell come in and fill the void for the Capitals? Russell may have to take a pay cut on his next contract, but would it be worth it for him in order to play for a legitimate Stanley Cup Contender? Russell is one of the league’s top shot-blocking defensemen and he regularly plays over 20 minutes per game.
OTHER UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS THAT ARE AVAILABLE
The open market is very dry for quality unrestricted free agent defensemen. Some veteran defensemen that the Capitals could maybe take a flyer on include James Wisniewski, Dennis Seidenberg, Barret Jackman, and Nicklas Grossmann.
THE TRADE ROUTE
With only $3.4 million in cap space available, the Capitals do not have a lot of flexibility to make a huge splash, and keep room available for an extra forward.
If the Capitals do explore the trade route, they will need to use extra caution with the expansion draft looming next year. If the Capitals decide to move on from Orlov completely, they should preferably get a player back that is on an entry-level contract. Players on entry-level contracts will be guaranteed automatic protection during the expansion draft. If they get a player back via trade that is already on a standard NHL contract, they will most likely want to receive a player that they will choose to protect during the expansion draft next year.
If Orlov decides to play in the KHL and remains unsigned, the Capitals will most likely look to try and trade his rights to another team. While they may not get a young player back in return, they may be able to salvage a draft pick from another team. A team that wants to trade for Orlov’s rights will most likely want to sign him to a long term deal.
IT IS A TRICKY SITUATION
With the expansion draft looming and Stanley Cup hopes high, the Capitals management has some tough decisions within the next year.
There will be some tough roster decisions moving forward. The 2016-17 season is a critical year for the Capitals. The club will have all of their chips on the table in order to win the Stanley Cup. GM Brian MacLellan must remain focused on the task at hand, and there must be very little distraction and outside interference. There will be decisions that affect the long term outlook of the club. Will Dmitry Orlov be around for the long haul with the Washington Capitals? Capitals fans will soon find out.
By: George Foussekis