Welcome to Caps 'Round the Clock, a blog covering the Washington Capitals and the NHL. In season, I update the Blog after every practice and on game day with Caps news and information, and then provide a recap and analysis after each contest. I also write a periodical Prospect Watch and weekly feature pieces on the state of the Men in Red and other things Capitals. And of course, I will post videos and tidbits from around the League and offer my two cents as the season wears on. In the offseason, I write a Report Card for each player, and will keep you updated on all the news about the Caps through the summer. I'm glad you're here, and hope you come back!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Prospect Watch: Dmitri Orlov

Orlov skates at Caps summer development camp in 2009.
Prospect Watch returns this week for it's second installment.  This time, I check in on Russian defenseman Dmitri Orlov, arguably the Capitals' best prospect on the blue line with Patrick McNeill.  Orlov is in the news around Capitals circles at the moment because he recently signed a professional tryout contract with the Hershey Bears, the Capitals' American Hockey League affiliate. Orlov has completed his season in Russia's Kontinental Hockey League, as his team, Metallurg Novokuznetsk, failed to make the postseason with the worst record in the league.  As a result, he has made the decision to come to North America now in anticipation of signing a contract with the Capitals next season rather than play the rest of the year in the Russian minor leagues, like he did last year.
The young Russian had a solid season for Novokuznetsk, tallying two goals ands ten assists in 45 games, with both of his goals coming on the power play.  He averaged 18:30 of ice time and 21.3 shifts per game, impressive for a 19 year old in the second best league in the world.  However, the poor quality of the team around him had a profound negative impact on his plus-minus rating, which was a disappointing -18 by the end of the year.  He was the Capitals' second round choice, 55th overall, in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, and was another player that dropped in the draft despite his obvious talent because teams had doubts about signing him.  As a result, the Capitals, who clearly have no issues with drafting and signing Russians, snapped up the talented defenseman later than it was expected he would go.  He is ranked as the number one defenseman and number five overall player in the Capitals' system by NHL Central Scouting.
Profile: Orlov is a skilled, smooth-skating offensive defenseman who compares best to current Capital Mike Green.  He has a quick, accurate shot, good passing ability, and decent size (6'0", 200).  Like Green, he uses his exceptional speed off the back end to press the issue constantly and create plays, making him a constant offensive threat.  His vision, hockey IQ, and creativity are his best attributes and contribute to his offensive abilities significantly.  Like Green, however, all of these skills have a tradeoff: his offensive creativity can lead to opportunities for the opposition.  Nevertheless, he is a sound defender in his own end who uses his size well, but does not play overly physical and go for big hits, which can also lead to odd-man rushes against.
Career Notes: Orlov made his pro debut in 2007-2008 for Metallurg Novokuznetsk of the Russian Superleague (now the KHL), his hometown team. After playing the majority of the year with their junior team, he played the final six games of the year for the big club, posting no points for them.  In 08-09, Orlov split time between the junior and senior Metallurg teams, but played the majority of the year in the KHL, posting four goals and seven points in 41 games.  This year, as you read before, has been his best season as a pro, as he played the full KHL schedule with Novokuznetsk and posted 12 points.  Orlov has represented his country in international play four times: at the World U18 Championships in 2008 and 2009, where he won back-to-back silver medals, and the World Junior Championships (U20) in 2010 and 2011.  The 2011 tournament was his best by far, as he posted one goal and nine points in seven games for the gold medal winning Red Army.  He was also named to the All-Tournament team with fellow Capitals prospect Evgeny Kuznetsov, one of only two defensemen and six players to earn that honor.
ETA: 2011-2012.  Orlov had stated on multiple occasions that he fully intended to come to the United States as soon as his Russian contract allowed him to. That time has come, and here he is with the Bears.  He is good enough to contribute on the blue line next year, and his ability, coupled with the uncertain futures of Tom Poti and Scott Hannan with the Capitals, make it likely that we see him next year for a cup of coffee with Washington, if not long term duty.  He is unlikely to make the opening night roster, as he still needs some time to gain experience in the AHL and adapt to the North American game.  The future is bright for this kid, but now the Capitals have to mold him.  It looks like that process is going to be worth it.

Data from Hockey's Future, the KHL, and the NHL were used in this post.


  1. Hawk,

    Your piece on Orlov is solid. He appears to be a great prospect. However, aren't the Caps lacking a true defenseman (i.e. Mark Tinordi), the kind that will hit you in your mouth first and score later? - Fabs

  2. Fabs, as much as I would love to see the Caps go after a Chris Pronger or Marc Staal type shutdown D-man, the reality of it is that they do not have the money to make a big time move like that anytime soon, unless it involves trading semin (preferred, but not likely IMO) or a package of prospects (which McPhee seems extremely unlikely to do). Therefore, it seems like the best we have on that end is John Erskine, who works hard and gets in your face. The new system seems to be based around defense and not offense, and is good in close (read: playoff) games, which makes me think that this new system is how the Capitals are going to operate for the foreseeable future. That means that offensive defensemen would be at a bigger premium for the Caps. Most of the Capitals prospects on the back end are puck-movers anyway, and you can't have enough of those, regardless of your system. In short, if you asked this question to me a year ago today, the answer would be a resounding yes. I am much more skeptical this time around that is what we need.