Brian MacLellan suspects that KHL teams have indeed reached out to Dmitry Orlov and Evgeny Kuznetsov, but the Capitals general manager isn’t too concerned about the contact.
“Sometimes I don’t know if they are accurate,” MacLellan said of the reports, “but I would assume that [KHL teams] are talking to them to try and get them to play.”
MacLellan also said he’s confident that both Orlov and Kuznetsov are committed to staying in Washington, adding that the Caps are open to getting both Russians inked to long-term extensions this summer.
Orlov and Kuznetsov are restricted free agents.
“We’re going to do everything we can to bring them back,” MacLellan said. “They are going to be a big part of our team moving forward.”
Orlov is coming off a breakout season. The 25-year-old defenseman moved into a top-4 role and thrived there. He also finished with a career-high 33 points (6 goals, 27 assists) and jumped from fifth on the team in average ice time during the regular season (19:32) to third in the playoffs (21:24).
Kuznetsov, meanwhile, earned ‘first star’ honors from the NHL in January and finished the regular season with 19 goals and 40 assists, despite a sluggish start. In playoffs, he was one of the Caps' best players, racking up five goals and five assists in 13 games. The year before, he produced just a goal and an assist in 12 postseason contests.
Reports of KHL interest in Russian players usually gets leaked to the media for a couple of purposes: if it's from the player's camp, it's aimed at putting pressure on the NHL club; if it's from the KHL team, it's aimed at pumping up the team's/league's profile.
Whatever the reason, MacLellan sounds unfazed.
“I think both are guys that really like it here, from when I talked to them at the end of the year,” MacLellan said, referring to the players’ exit interviews. “Orlov likes it here and Kuznetsov likes it here.”
MacLellan added that he’s hopeful of getting deals done with both players sometime in the “next month or so” and, if the money is right, getting them locked up for many years to come.
Orlov earned $2.57 million on a one-year deal this season, while Kuznetsov made $3.4 million in the second year of a two-year deal.
“Yeah, I would be open to [signing] both to long-term deals,” MacLellan said.
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