Dmitry Orlov was arguably the Capitals best defenseman last season. While some fans remain pained by his past puck-handling blunders, his numbers say that last season was his best campaign in a Capitals uniform. A deeper dive into his stats shows he ranked at or near the top in numerous statistical categories among all Capitals defenders for the 2020-21 season.
Below are the rankings for each of the Capitals defensemen for 14 statistical categories last season. Orlov’s cumulative score was by far the best on the team.
But who does Orlov think is the best defenseman in the league, and more importantly, why?
“Who is the best defender? I would single out Cale Makar. He skates very well, moves well with the puck, sees the ice and creates a lot of danger. But at the same time, I would not say that he also plays as well on defense. Yes, he is a great skater, can adjust, but he is not a “defensive-defensman.” And in principle, there are no such players now,” said Orlov.
“The further you play from the defensive zone, the better for you and your stats. The faster you get the puck and pass it to the attacker, or you leave the zone with it, the more valuable you are in the NHL,” Orlov said in an interview for the Cherkas Atlant YouTube channel.
It’s fairly clear that Orlov gets the importance of zone entries by defensemen. He was the Capitals best defenseman last season and 6th overall in the league in zone entries per 60 minutes.
That’s some pretty lofty company with Orlov at the top of the list. The question that emerges when considering Orlov’s abilities to move the puck, is should he be on the top pair, or deployed more often with the top line/scoring players? It will be interesting to see if any changes are made this season.
By Jon Sorensen
Washington Capitals Defense: Annual Performance Review