Dmitry Orlov, a restricted free agent (RFA), and the Washington Capitals both declined to file for arbitration this summer, leaving one to surmise an agreement between to the two sides was imminent. However, July gave way to August and then September quickly followed, and still no agreement is in place.
Orlov’s salary for the 2015-2016 season was $2,250,000 with a $2,000,000 cap hit. It’s probably safe to assume the Orlov camp is looking for something in the neighborhood of $3,000,000, while the Capitals are likely looking at a salary of around $2,500,000. The Capitals extended the minimum qualifying offer (last years salary) to Orlov in June, but the offer was rejected by the Orlov camp.
The Capitals are currently $3,454,874 under the salary cap (General Fanager). The team has noted throughout the offseason that they would like to add another 4th liner to the roster. So the Capitals will need to be extremely frugal with Orlov’s contract, in order to save cash for a 4th liner, and for potential call-ups during the season. Zach Sanford and Jakub Vrana are likely to see playing time with the Capitals this season and carry cap hits of $875,000 and $863,000, pro-rated, respectively.
Both sides of the table have been tight-lipped about the status of negotiations, a potential sign that something else is in the works. (It should be noted that NoVa Caps reached out to Orlov’s agent, Mark Gandler, but he declined to comment).
A Few Shots at Reasons for Waiting
If the Capitals were to delay the signing of Orlov until training camp, the value of the delay would increase and benefit the Capitals. If a defender were to step-up in training camp, the future for Orlov in Washington would likely dim rather quickly. The Capitals training camp will likely open around September 22nd, so that would mean negations would need to stall another three weeks. It’s hard to imagine things dragging out another three weeks, but I bet many said that at the beginning of August.
It’s hard to believe, but the free-agent market for forwards is still open. Jacob Trouba, Grant Clitsome, Matt Halischuk, Arturs Kulda and Austen Brassard are all still out there. It’s unknown how aggressive the Capitals have been in pursuing an additional 4th liner, so it’s unclear if the Caps may have missed-out on signing some of the bigger names that were still available in August. If the Caps are still actively pursuing another forward, waiting to sign Orlov is a smart move.
Orlov has stated that he will be playing in the World Cup of Hockey no matter what. If Orlov were to get injured in the World Cup of Hockey, the negotiations limbo would obviously benefit the Capitals, although nobody’s really a winner in this instance. As you may recall, Orlov missed the entire 2014-2015 season after breaking his arm in Russia’s 6-1 win over the United States in the 2014 IIHF World Championships.
It’s difficult to pinpoint reasons for the delay in signing Orlov. It could be related to old-fashioned haggling on a final price. However, there is little in the way of incentive for the Capitals to hurry up and get things done, so waiting may be their plan.
By Jon Sorensen