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After the Capitals’ Stanley Cup win and Stanley Cup parade, the NHL season, in terms of game action is officially over. In the coming weeks, teams will begin preparing for the offseason, including the NHL Entry Draft, Free Agency, and the contract decisions of players (and in the Capitals’ case, their coaches). In Capital Review, NoVa Caps will be taking a look at each player’s season, their contract status, and their outlook for next season, beginning in numerical order based on jersey number. Next up: defenseman Dmitry Orlov.
Games Played: 82
After the losses of fellow defensmen Nate Schmidt, Karl Alzner, and Kevin Shattenkirk last summer, Orlov’s role grew exponentially this season, as the former second-round pick (55th overall in 2009) averaged a career-high 23:09 of ice time a night in all 82 games played for Head Coach Barry Trotz (including a team-high 19:59 at even-strength), scoring a career-high 10 goals (the first time he’s reached double digits in goals in his career) and averaging 1:10 of power play time, despite playing on the second unit. Orlov recorded a career-best 116 blocked shots and 54 takeaways and and contributed 4.4 defensive point shares (the estimated number of points contributed by a player due to his defensive play), which was the second-highest of his career.
Orlov continued his strong performance into the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs, scoring twice and adding six assists for eight points in 24 games, with a plus-5 rating. His eight points ranked third among Capitals blueliners, behind John Carlson’s 20 points and Matt Niskanen’s nine. Orlov averaged a career-high 24:12 of ice time in the playoffs, and was third among skaters in that category.
Status: Five seasons remaining on six-year, $30.6 million contract signed June 2017 ($5.1 million annual average value).
Money Left on Current Deal: $24.1 million left in total salary
Free Agent: 2023, Unrestricted
Analysis: After missing the entire 2014-15 season due to complications from a wrist procedure, Orlov returned to the lineup in 2015-16 and has since evolved into one of the Capitals’ better all-around defensemen, while still excelling on the offensive side of the game. Orlov has topped the 30-point plateau twice in the last two seasons and as mentioned above, reached double digits in goals for the first time in his career this season. Orlov will turn 27 next month and is just entering the prime of his career. Orlov will be just shy of his 32nd birthday when his contract expires in 2023, meaning he has several more seasons productivity ahead of him before the Capitals have to worry about a decline in production. With the addition of young blueliners Madison Bowey and Christian Djoos this season, Orlov played a key role in helping the younger players adapt to the NHL game, something Orlov experienced himself just a few short seasons ago. As long as Orlov can continue to be a durable player over the rest of the deal, the contract is a smart investment by the team.
Orlov’s role could grow even more next season if the Capitals fail to re-sign Carlson, who is the team’s top rearguard and a pending unrestricted free agent in line for a big pay raise. Fellow defenseman Michal Kempny is also an unrestricted free agent and should he depart, Orlov could quickly become the team’s most valuable blueliner alongside Niskanen. Since returning to the team in 2015-16, Orlov has averaged eight goals, 23 assists, and 31 points a season, and depending on whether his role increases or remains the same next season, those totals should increase next seasons as he becomes entrusted with more responsibilities. His average ice time will also be affected should Carlson depart or stay, and if the latter does leave, Orlov’s average ice time should grow exponentially.
DMITRY ORLOV HIGHLIGHT OF THE SEASON
By Michael Fleetwood
Check out the other 2017-18 Capital Reviews: