With training camp set to begin in about three weeks, the Capitals and restricted free agent Dmitry Orlov still have not agreed on contract extension.
But it also sounds as though it’s a matter of when, not if, a deal gets done, based on comments from Coach Barry Trotz on Tuesday.
“I think, obviously, [GM Brian MacLellan] is talking with Orlov’s agent all the time,” Trotz said at KCI. “Orly has got a great opportunity here.”
Trotz also reiterated that he sees big things for Orlov in 2016-17, perhaps even a steady spot in the top-4.
“I envision him playing with a [Matt] Niskanen or a [John] Carlson, probably more prime minutes as we try even out our defense a little bit in terms of [workload],” Trotz added. “It’s a great opportunity for him. He’s at the right age where he can really contribute. We’ll look for his contributions on the power play, the penalty kill, playing in that top-4 on a pretty regular basis. I just think it’s right for him.”
So what’s the holdup?
“It’s probably just timing, dollars, length,” Trotz said. “He’s right where he wants to be in his career, where he’s an up-and-coming player who is going to get a great opportunity here with a good team.”
Orlov, 25, earned $2.25 million last season while counting $2 million against the salary cap. The Capitals have $3.45 million in cap space available but cannot commit all of that to Orlov, a young player with big upside but an unproven track record.
Trotz said he intends to seek out Orlov soon. The two will cross paths next month when Team Canada faces Russia in a pre-tournament game in Pittsburgh.
“He’s playing at the World Cup [and] that level will be very, very high,” Trotz said. “I think it’s great experience for him. I think it will make him better and it will make us better.”
Capitals associate coach Todd Reirden, who oversees the defensemen in Washington, echoed Trotz’s sentiments about Orlov’s ceiling.
“I think we’re just touching the surface with this player,” Reirden said. “Him going through the World Cup experience will be outstanding for him, as well. …I’ve been in contact with him a few times this summer, just getting him in a really good spot mentally to come in and have a huge year for us. I think his opportunity is in his hands.”
Reirden said finding the right partner for Orlov will be critical. He also said eliminating the game-altering mistake—at exactly the wrong moment—figures to rank among Orlov’s top priorities.
“In terms of areas of improvement for him, it’s still eliminating the big errors in his game at crucial times,” Reirden said. "We need to continue to force him to make the right decisions at the right times. In terms of his risk-reward, he does really have the ability to swing a game offensively for us.”
Orlov had a career-high eight goals and 29 points in 82 games last season.
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