Throughout the Capitals’ 42 years in existence, they’ve issued a total of 87 different jersey numbers to the hundreds of players that have suited up in the District. In NoVa Caps’ brand new feature, History Behind A Number, NoVa Caps’ writer Michael Fleetwood looks at a few notable players that have worn a given number. Today’s number: 9.
In the history of the franchise, a total of 17 players have donned the number on their sweaters. Here are four notable Capitals who have donned it on their backs.
Capitals Career: 2001-2007
Background: A former first-round pick (15th overall in 1996) of the Philadelphia Flyers, Zubrus was acquired by the Caps along with Trevor Linden and second-round pick originally belonging to the New Jersey Devils, in exchange for defenseman Richard Zednik, center Jan Bulis, and Washington’s first-round pick in the 2001 NHL Entry Draft (later used on Alexander Perezhogin).
In 12 games played with the Caps after the trade, Zubrus recorded just one goal and one assist for an unimpressive two points. His first full season in the District would see Zubrus break out as an offensive force, scoring 17 goals and adding 26 assists for 43 points in 71 games played. His point totals would regress over the following two seasons (35 and 27 points, respectively), before he had his best ever season as a member of the Caps. In what would be his final full season in a Capitals sweater, Zubrus scored 23 goals and added 34 assists for 57 points in 71 games. He was one of the two players that assisted on Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin’s first career goal.
The following season would see Zubrus surpass his totals from the previous year and, after recording 52 points (20 goals, 32 assists) in 60 games played with the Caps in a contract year, he was traded to the Buffalo Sabres along with Timo Helbling in exchange for Jiri Novotny and Buffalo’s first-round pick (later traded to the San Jose Sharks) in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft. In 19 games played in Buffalo, Zubrus recorded four goals and assists for eight points, finishing with a career-high 24 goals, 36 assists, and 60 points. Zubrus would sign as a free agent with the New Jersey Devils in July 2004 and would play the next eight seasons there before signing with the Sharks prior to the 2015-16 season. He would play 50 games, recording three goals and seven points. Zubrus finished his long NHL career with 228 goals, 363 assists, and 591 points in 1,293 games played.
Capitals Career: 2009-10
Background: A former standout with the Vancouver Canucks, Brendan Morrison signed with the Capitals prior to the 2009-10 season to help bolster the team’s scoring depth and provide a quality leader on the team. While his career in Washington was brief, he certainly made the most of it.
Morrison was one of the most productive forwards on the Capitals in their first-ever President’s Trophy-winning season, scoring 12 goals and adding 30 assists for a solid 42 points in 74 games played. Despite his offensive numbers, the Capitals did not re-sign him and he signed with the Calgary Flames on October 4, 2010 and played parts of two seasons with the club, recording 54 points (13 goals, 41 assists) in 94 games played. He was traded to the Chicago Blackhawks during the 2011-12 season, recording no points in 11 games played.
Capitals Career: 2012-13
Background: Like Morrison, Ribeiro’s stay in Washington was a brief one, playing only one season after being acquired for fellow center Cody Eakin and a second-round pick in 2012 NHL Entry Draft originally belonging to the Boston Bruins.
Ribeiro’s career in Washington only spanned 48 games, as it was during the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season. Acquired to hopefully be the second-line center the Caps had been coveting since the departure of Hall of Famer Sergei Fedorov in 2009, Ribeiro fit in nicely in then-Head Coach Adam Oates’ offensive scheme. In 48 games played in a Capitals sweater, Ribeiro scored 13 times and added 36 assists for 49 points.
After the season, the Capitals offered Ribeiro (a pending unrestricted free agent) a three-year contract, but the veteran center turned it down, instead signing a lucrative, four-year deal with the Arizona Coyotes, of which he played just one season before being bought out by the team. He then signed a contract with the Nashville Predators, where he had a bounce-back 62-point season in 2014-15 season. In three seasons with the Predators, Ribeiro had 137 points in 209 games.
Dmitry Orlov (above)
Capitals Career: 2011-Present
Background: The current bearer of the No. 9, Orlov was drafted by the Caps in the second-round (55th overall) of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft. He has become one of the Capitals’ most well-rounded defenseman, and just 25-years old, still has room to grow his game.
Originally wearing No. 81, Orlov got his first taste of NHL action during the 2011-12 season, in which he played in 60 games, showing some offensive potential with a respectable 19 points (three goals, 16 assists). Still just 20-years old, Orlov spent time with the Capitals’ AHL affiliate, the Hershey Bears, before getting recalled to play in five games during the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season, registering one assist. His first, true opportunity to break into the NHL for good came during the 2013-14 season, which saw the Capitals use 14 different defensemen in a campaign in which they missed the playoffs for the first time in six years. Orlov played in 54 games, scoring three times and adding eight assists for 11 points.
Orlov’s future almost became jeopardized after suffering a setback after a surgery to repair his damaged wrist, which he had sustained in the World Hockey Championships. He lost considerable strength in his wrist and some speculated his career might be over. As a result of the setback, Orlov was forced to sit out the entire 2014-15 season, continuing to strengthen his wrist at practices. Orlov returned to action in the 2015-16 season, and continued to show his potential, scoring a career-high eight goals and then-high of 29 points playing in all 82 games.
Orlov capitalized on his expanded role this season, setting a career-high in points and assists, with 33 and 27, respectively. A restricted free agent after the season, Orlov will look to cash in on another strong showing.
By Michael Fleetwood