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End of season review: Dmitry Orlov

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End of season review: Dmitry Orlov

Throughout the coming weeks, CSNWashington.com Capitals Insider Chuck Gormley will evaluate the 2014-15 performance of each player on the Caps roster. One breakdown will occur every day in alphabetical order. Today: Dmitry Orlov

Position: Defense

Shoots: Left

Age: 23 [turns 24 July 23]

Ht/Wt: 5-11, 210

Games: Did not play

Contract Status: 1 year remaining on 2-year, $4 million contract [2015-16 salary: $2.25 million; cap hit: $2 million]

Strengths: When he’s healthy, Orlov is a very effective two-way defenseman with a heavy shot and an ability to separate opponents from the puck with open-ice hits. In 2013-14, he averaged 19:36 in ice time, primarily on a second pairing with Mike Green. But a broken wrist suffered in the 2014 World Championships began a nightmarish season for Orlov, who developed an infection that required a second surgery and resulted in a lack of strength and flexibility in his left wrist. Orlov was assigned to Hershey on March 27 for a three-game rehab assignment and recorded three assists and a minus-3 rating for the Bears. He returned to Washington on April 2 but Capitals coach Barry Trotz did not have enough confidence in Orlov to put him in the lineup, saying he needed to improve handling the puck in tight areas. During the playoffs Orlov said he received a call from the Russian national team inviting him to play in the 2015 World Championships if the Capitals were eliminated. “I don’t want us to lose,” Orlov said, “but I was surprised the coach called me and I was excited the coach believe in me for the national team.”

Room for improvement: Orlov said he was healthy enough to play in the final weeks of the regular season and into the playoffs and does not anticipate needing any more surgeries on his wrist. “I watch games from press box,” he said. “I was mad at not playing because I wanted to be part of the team. But they play good. It was a hard season for me. Right now it’s all good. I just want to forget what happened, forget this year and be ready for next. It was a hard year not playing. I feel I can do what I did before. Every day I feel better.

I just want these few months to go fast and I look forward to practicing and playing.”

Memorable Moment: Two of Orlov’s three assists in Hershey came off booming slap shots from the point. He took six shots in those three games and appeared to have the same torque as he had in the first three seasons of his pro career.

Quotable: “You can’t practice, like, every day and not play. It’s hard emotionally. All hockey players want to play in games and not just practices. I don’t know what’s going to happen, but it’s hard to be normal. I’m not being myself. I’m not doing what I can do.” – Orlov on Dec. 11, 2014

2015-16 Expectations: General manager Brian MacLellan said he plans on having Orlov and Nate Schmidt as the Caps’ third defense pairing next season but also sent up a warning flag by saying he does not know if Orlov will ever be 100 percent again. That means some of the strength and flexibility in Orlov’s wrist may never be fully restored. Orlov said his biggest problem was fending off opponents with his left hand while battling for pucks in the corners. If Orlov can continue strengthening the muscles around his wrist fracture he should be able to compensate and return to play a significant role with the Caps next season. But if Orlov cannot fully recover, next season could be his final one in Washington because of his contract situation.

RELATED: End of season review: Matt Niskanen

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Capitals Extra Podcast: Trade deadline story time with Alan May

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NBC Sports Washington

Capitals Extra Podcast: Trade deadline story time with Alan May

Alan May knows a thing or two about the trade deadline.

Over the course of his NHL career, May was traded five total times, four at the trade deadline. He sits down with Rob Carlin on a special edition of the Capitals Extra Podcast to tell stories from his playing days about what it was like getting traded.

This one's a can't miss for hockey fans. You can listen to the episode here on the Capitals Extra page or with the player below.

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NHL Awards tracker: Where would the Caps' offense be without Ovechkin?

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USA TODAY Sports

NHL Awards tracker: Where would the Caps' offense be without Ovechkin?

The Hart Trophy is given to the player judged to be the most valuable to their team. With the Caps currently struggling in almost every aspect of the game, consider this: Just where would they be without Alex Ovechkin?

Washington ranks 10th in the NHL in goals per game with 3.05. Ovechkin leads the NHL in goals with 36. He has scored an incredible 19-percent of his team's goals. No one on the Caps is within 20 goals of the Caps' captain.

That's not a typo. Evgeny Kuznetsov ranks second on the team with 16 goals. No other team in the league has a larger separation between its top two scorers. In fact, only three teams have a difference that's in the double digits: Vancouver (11), San Jose (10) and New Jersey (10).

Ovechkin is almost singlehandedly propping up Washington as a top-ten offense. If you think about just where this offense would be without him, there's a pretty strong case to be made that Ovechkin is as valuable to his team this season as any other player in the league.

SEE THIS WEEK'S 2018 NHL AWARDS TRACKER HERE

Here are the Caps' hopefuls for awards this season:

John Carlson

In contention for: Norris

Carlson is fifth among all defensemen with 45 points, but his case goes beyond the numbers. With a blue line that has featured two rookies the majority of the season, an aging veteran in Brooks Orpik and that had to deal with an injury to Matt Niskanen, the Caps have asked a lot of Carlson this season and he has always been up to the task.

Alex Ovechkin

In contention for: Hart

Few players, if any, are as important to their team's offensive production and therefore its success than Ovechkin has been this season.

Check out who the top candidates are for the league's major individual awards in this week's 2018 NHL Awards Tracker!