Dmitry Orlov was given a prove it contract heading into the 2016-17 season and he did just that, providing the best season of his NHL career. It looks like the Capitals were not the only ones to take notice.
CSKA is in talks with Dmitry Orlov #Caps— Igor Eronko (@IgorEronko) May 26, 2017
Orlov is in talks with KHL team CSKA, as Igor Eronko reports and the president of CSKA announced Friday. The Russian defenseman played in the KHL for Metallurg Novokuznetsk from 2008 to 2011 before heading to North America. His rights were traded to CSKA in 2013.
So what does this mean for the Caps? Absolutely nothing.
These types of talks happen frequently between players and the KHL in the offseason and rarely does anything come of it.
The NHL and KHL have an agreement saying the leagues must honor each other’s contracts. As a restricted free agent, the Caps still own Orlov’s rights in the NHL, but that does not mean anything to CSKA. That makes this the perfect time for the team to try to convince Orlov to jump ship and return to Russia.
As far as the player is concerned, talking with the KHL is a bargaining chip to use when it comes time to negotiate a new contract in the NHL. Orlov does not have many cards to play as an RFA. Talking to CSKA is about the only leverage he has short of signing an offer sheet – which is considered taboo – and demanding a trade.
What also doesn’t help is the fact that the KHL is dealing with serious financial issues.
Remember Orlov’s first KHL team, Metallurg Novokuznetsk? Well, it is not in the KHL anymore. It was one of two teams removed from the league this offseason and KHL president Dmitry Chernyshenko has announced the league will remove another three teams after next season. He also revealed the league is dealing with over $17 million worth of wage delays to its players, some of whom have not been paid in over six months.
Orlov is poised to play on a top pair on a team in the best hockey league in the world. It seems unlikely he would abandon that opportunity after climbing the ranks from Hershey to the top of the Caps’ depth chart to go back home to a league dealing with financial delays and an uncertain future.
But if everyone knows these talks are for show, then why bother?
Two reasons. First, Orlov’s past two contracts were for two years and one year respectively. Negotiating his last deal dragged on throughout the summer until right before training camp was set to start. He will likely be looking for something a bit more long-term this go around. The second issue is the Olympics.
The NHL has announced that it will not be participating in the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, something the players, especially the European ones, have taken issue with. Barring a reversal by the NHL, leaving for the KHL is about the only avenue Orlov would have to represent his native Russia.
But would that be enough to entice him to ignore the glaring problems with the KHL? That seems pretty doubtful.
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