CSNWashington.com Capitals Insider Chuck Gormley will evaluate the 2011-12 performance of each player on the Caps roster. One breakdown will occur every weekday in alphabetical order. Today: Dmitry Orlov
HtWt: 6-0, 210
Penalty Minutes: 18
Average Ice Time: 16:52
Contract Status: 2 years remaining on 3-year, 2.07 million entry level contract 900,000 cap hit
Strengths: A coachable, hard-working defenseman, Orlov might have been the most pleasant surprise of the season for the Capitals. He quickly learned to balance stepping up for big hits without sacrificing sound positional hockey. Orlov also has a strong, accurate shot from the blue line and is an above average skater who can move the puck quickly out of his own zone.
Weaknesses: Orlov was the only regular on the Capitals roster who did not see any playing time in the playoffs, which seemed peculiar considering he was a healthy scratch in just four of the teams final 64 games and logged 19:44 in the regular season finale. There is still a language barrier that exists but a summer of English lessons would curb any real concerns.
Memorable Moment on the ice: On Jan. 15, Orlov made his first goal in the NHL a big one as he raced up the middle of the ice, took a pass from Jason Chimera and beat Carolina Hurricanes goaltender Cam Ward with his own rebound for a third-period game-winner in a 2-1 win. I only have positive emotions, Orlov said through an interpreter after the game. I was a little worried about it, sort of anxious. I was waiting for this moment to come, and it finally came today. I'm just extremely happy that it happened today, that I finally scored my first NHL goal.
Memorable Moment off the ice: Orlovs indoctrination into the NHL came on the weekend of Feb. 4 and 5 when he was struck in the nose in back-to-back games. When he showed up at Kettler on that Monday, he sported a swollen nose and darkness under both eyes, but that did not dent his sense of humor. Bad karma, he said with a smile. Even coach Dale Hunter supplied a one-liner. I didn't want to tell him that usually it comes in threes, Hunter joked.
2012-13 Expectations: Orlov is already strong, but he could benefit from a few extra pounds of muscle over the summer. With a new coach, Orlov will need to prove himself all over again and that may be a good thing. If he can play a full season and take on some of Dennis Widemans ice time on the power play, Orlov could double his offensive totals and solidify a young and improving blue line.