The Dmitry Dilemma: Dmitry Orlov’s Strong Season Makes For An Interesting Decision on His Future

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When he signed a one-year contract late last summer, Capitals defenseman Dmitry Orlov was making a bet on himself to match or exceed his career-high 29 points (eight goals, 21 assists) from the 2015-16 season. So far, it’s proven to be a good one. Which makes General Manager Brian MacLellan’s job this summer even more challenging.

Orlov is one of a number of free agents (both restricted and unrestricted) that the Capitals will have to make decisions on come late June and early July. As a restricted free agent, Orlov could be tendered a qualifying offer by the Caps to retain exclusive negotiating rights, and while that is likely to happen, there are other factors for the Caps to consider.

One of the Caps’ top unrestricted free agents is defensive stalwart Karl Alzner, who is due for a substantial raise from his current $2.8 million salary. There is also the upcoming Expansion Draft for the Capitals’ front office to consider as well. The Caps can only protect THREE defensemen, and it could ultimately come down to who the Caps value more (Orlov or Alzner) for the third spot (John Carlson and Matt Niskanen are most likely to be the other two protected). While Orlov has higher offensive upside and has improved his two-way game, Alzner far outweighs him when it comes to defense.

Orlov currently has five goals and 24 assists, and has matched his career-high in points with 18 games left to play in the season. He has seen an increase in playing time in an increased role (he is averaging 19:40 minutes of ice time this season, over three minutes more than last season), and his defensive game has improved under Associate Coach Todd Reirden. The Capitals netminders boast a .938 save percentage when Orlov is on the ice, compared to .904 last season.


Orlov is still just 25, meaning he hasn’t hit what many call the “prime years” of his career (usually between 26-30 years of age). While he is inevitably due a raise from his current $2.57 million salary, his strong performance has nonetheless further complicated the decision-making of MacLellan and strengthened his case for staying in DC. Whether that happens is yet to be seen.

By Michael Fleetwood

About Michael Fleetwood

Michael Fleetwood was born into a family of diehard Capitals fans and has been watching games as long as he can remember. He was born the year the Capitals went to their first Stanley Cup Final, and is a diehard Caps fan, the owner of the very FIRST Joe Beninati jersey and since then, has met Joe himself. Michael joined the NoVa Caps team in 2015, and is most proud of the growth of the NoVa Caps community in that time. An avid photographer, Michael resides in VA.
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9 Responses to The Dmitry Dilemma: Dmitry Orlov’s Strong Season Makes For An Interesting Decision on His Future

  1. The Caps protect Carlson, Niskanen and Orlov; I haven’t seen it any other way (barring a serious injury or huge flop in form). Too much upside potential for Orlov and Carlson and Niskanen are under contract and too core right now.

  2. jalabar says:

    I believe that the Caps will protect Niskanen, Carlson, and Orlov and let Alzner walk, re-signing Orlov. The only thing that would alter that would be if they decide they need to and can re-sign Shattenkirk.

  3. I’ve got a different take on this…Just because Sanford was timid after his initial call-up it doesn’t follow that he’ll remain timid for the rest of his caree after getting over the initial spate of butterflies. St. Louis would never have INSISTED on us including him in the trade that brought us Shattenkirk if the 6’4″ Sanford was such a poor prospect…No less than Barry Trotz said that the reason Jakub Vrana didn’t make the club out of spring training was because of ZACK SANFORD, who coach BT described as a real “HOCKEY PLAYER”, remember??? Yeah, it took a while for Zach to get comfortable, but once he did he looked like a power forward with soft hands. 20 year old players like that don’t grow on trees…I mean, St. Louis turned their collective noses up at Tom Wilson when HE was dangled; (wouldn’t you?)

    The bottom line is that in order for this swap to be deemed a success the Caps will have to win the Cup…Now don’t get me wrong–I’m not equating this trade with the dumb-beyond-all-reckoning move GMGM made which brought us future Hall-of-Famers Martin Erat and Michael Latta in exchange for the one time JEWEL of our farm system (Filip Forsberg, a player who–at last look–had recorded TEN goals in his most recent SIX GAMES and 26 overall…) But if the Caps don’t win it all this season there’s a 98% chance that they will have traded someone who could have been a Cap over the next 10 years in exchange for a rental who may not–despite his (offensive) talent– be quite enough to get us to the Promised Land–ESPECIALLY if anyone important gets injured (or goes into a slump…like the so-called Great Eight…)

    Santa Monica

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