The Capitals and restricted free agent Dmitry Orlov are closing in on a new deal, multiple sources confirmed to CSN on Wednesday morning.
Although Orlov is representing Russia at the World Cup of Hockey, pressure has been mounting on the team and the defenseman’s agent to hammer out a deal ahead of Capitals’ training camp, which begins later this week. (The arrival of Washington’s nine World Cup participants depends on how far their national team advances in the eight-team tournament.)
As a restricted free agent who didn’t choose arbitration, Orlov’s options are limited. It’s basically sign with the Capitals or bolt for the KHL, where CSKA Moscow owns his negotiating rights and has money to spend. The Capitals’ hands, meanwhile, are also tied to certain extent. Sitting just $3.45 million from the salary cap ceiling, according to www.generalfanager.com, there’s not much wiggle room. Washington can’t—and won’t—allocate all of that money to Orlov because they must set aside some of that for an injury call-up, a 14th forward, etc. The team is, however, expected to have more space next offseason as contracts come off the books. As such, it’s likely Orlov will agree to a short-term bridge deal and his salary will come in at slightly less than the $2.8 million Karl Alzner is slated to earn in 2016-17.
Orlov, 25, made $2.25 million last season.
While a contract has not been agreed upon, reaching a deal makes sense for both sides. Orlov is young, possesses a lot of upside and the Capitals have plans in place to tap into that potential by increasing his playing time and responsibilities this season. For Orlov, he would get the opportunity to play top-4 minutes (coaches have mentioned pairing him with John Carlson or Matt Niskanen) while playing on a good team alongside fellow countrymen Alex Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov.
Orlov told CSN in an interview last Thursday in Toronto that he expected to eventually sign a deal to remain in Washington, though he also indicated that the back-and-forth of negotiations had become emotionally draining and that he World Cup was provided a welcome distraction from it all.
“Every day is different in my mind,” Orlov added, speaking at World Cup of Hockey media day. “I understand it’s a normal [negotiation]. It’s the first time in my life I have this situation. I think about it a lot, and probably more than I should do it.”
The Washington Post first report the progress in talks between Orlov and the Capitals.
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