Throughout the coming weeks, CSNWashington.com Capitals Insider Chuck Gormley will evaluate the 2014-15 performance of each player on the Caps roster. One breakdown will occur every day in alphabetical order. Today: Dmitry Orlov
Age: 23 [turns 24 July 23]
Ht/Wt: 5-11, 210
Games: Did not play
Contract Status: 1 year remaining on 2-year, $4 million contract [2015-16 salary: $2.25 million; cap hit: $2 million]
Strengths: When he’s healthy, Orlov is a very effective two-way defenseman with a heavy shot and an ability to separate opponents from the puck with open-ice hits. In 2013-14, he averaged 19:36 in ice time, primarily on a second pairing with Mike Green. But a broken wrist suffered in the 2014 World Championships began a nightmarish season for Orlov, who developed an infection that required a second surgery and resulted in a lack of strength and flexibility in his left wrist. Orlov was assigned to Hershey on March 27 for a three-game rehab assignment and recorded three assists and a minus-3 rating for the Bears. He returned to Washington on April 2 but Capitals coach Barry Trotz did not have enough confidence in Orlov to put him in the lineup, saying he needed to improve handling the puck in tight areas. During the playoffs Orlov said he received a call from the Russian national team inviting him to play in the 2015 World Championships if the Capitals were eliminated. “I don’t want us to lose,” Orlov said, “but I was surprised the coach called me and I was excited the coach believe in me for the national team.”
Room for improvement: Orlov said he was healthy enough to play in the final weeks of the regular season and into the playoffs and does not anticipate needing any more surgeries on his wrist. “I watch games from press box,” he said. “I was mad at not playing because I wanted to be part of the team. But they play good. It was a hard season for me. Right now it’s all good. I just want to forget what happened, forget this year and be ready for next. It was a hard year not playing. I feel I can do what I did before. Every day I feel better.
I just want these few months to go fast and I look forward to practicing and playing.”
Memorable Moment: Two of Orlov’s three assists in Hershey came off booming slap shots from the point. He took six shots in those three games and appeared to have the same torque as he had in the first three seasons of his pro career.
Quotable: “You can’t practice, like, every day and not play. It’s hard emotionally. All hockey players want to play in games and not just practices. I don’t know what’s going to happen, but it’s hard to be normal. I’m not being myself. I’m not doing what I can do.” – Orlov on Dec. 11, 2014
2015-16 Expectations: General manager Brian MacLellan said he plans on having Orlov and Nate Schmidt as the Caps’ third defense pairing next season but also sent up a warning flag by saying he does not know if Orlov will ever be 100 percent again. That means some of the strength and flexibility in Orlov’s wrist may never be fully restored. Orlov said his biggest problem was fending off opponents with his left hand while battling for pucks in the corners. If Orlov can continue strengthening the muscles around his wrist fracture he should be able to compensate and return to play a significant role with the Caps next season. But if Orlov cannot fully recover, next season could be his final one in Washington because of his contract situation.
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