The Capitals and defenseman Dmitry Orlov have come to an interesting crossroads in the 24-year-old defenseman’s career and the next few weeks could determine which road each side takes.
The Capitals allowed Wednesday's 5 p.m. deadline for club-elected salary arbitration to pass without filing and are continuing negotiations with their Russian blue liner, who did not elect salary arbitration on Tuesday.
Last month, Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan said he’d like to see Orlov have an increased role next season, possibly replacing Brooks Orpik on one of the Caps’ top two defense pairings. If that’s the intention, Orlov will want to be paid accordingly.
Last season, Orlov earned $2.25 million in the second year of a two-year, $4 million contract. Having finished tied for first among Caps defensemen in goals (8) and third in points (29) while averaging just 16:01 in average ice time (ranking sixth) Orlov will be seeking a deal that puts him at least in the $3 million range.
If he gets it, that would place him fourth among Caps defensemen in average salary, behind Matt Niskanen ($5.75 million), Brooks Orpik ($5.5 million) and John Carlson ($3.96 million) and above Karl Alzner ($2.8 million), who is entering into the final year of his contract.
The Capitals currently have roughly $8 million in salary space and Marcus Johansson likely will eat up about $4.5 million of that space. That would leave roughly $3.5 million for Orlov and there’s a good chance his agent, Mark Gandler, is asking for close to that figure.
Gandler did not return emails and phone messages left for him on Tuesday and Wednesday.
If the Caps cannot come to an agreement with Orlov on compensation, they could seek to trade him and use the extra salary space to add a defenseman through unrestricted free agency.
Among those still on the market are (including age and 2015-16 cap hits):
Matt Carle, 31, $5.5 million
James Wisniewski, 31, $5.5 million
Nikita Nikitin, 29, $4.5 million
Dan Boyle, 39, $4.5 million
Willie Mitchell, 38, $4.25 million
Kyle Quincey, 30, $4.25 million
Dennis Seidenberg, 34, $4 million
Justin Schultz, 25, $3.9 million
Mattias Ohlund, 39, $3.6 million
Luke Schenn, 26, $3.6 million
Brad Stuart, 36, $3.6 million
Nicklas Grossman, 30, $3.5 million