Photo: Justin K. Aller
Dmitry Orlov‘s season didn’t get started until Thanksgiving, but once he got going he was darn good. Still, I can’t help but think that he’s not the kind of player we used to think he was.
|19.2||Average time on ice per game|
|51.3%||Shot attempt percentage during 5v5|
|47.8%||Goal percentage during 5v5|
|7.3%||On-ice shooting percentage during 5v5|
|92.0%||On-ice saving percentage during 5v5|
Adam Oates did not like Orlov’s play and declined to give him a sweater through the season’s first two months. To keep an escape clause in his contract for going into effect, George McPhee kept Orlov bouncing between Hershey and Arlington that whole time– a pretty wretched situation for the young Russian defenseman. By the end of November, Orlov requested a trade– but instead he got ice time. One wonders if Oates changed his mind or if his hand was forced.
Once Orlov hit the playing surface, he did better than anyone else at driving possession (relatively). But that didn’t translate into goals– Orlov’s goal percentage during 5v5 was 3.5 percent lower than his possession, well into the red. That’s mostly due to bad save percentages by the Caps when Orlov was on the ice, and it leads us to a quandary: is that Orly’s fault? There were certainly plenty of defensive miscues on Dmitry’s part– particularly on those way-too-frequent odd-man rushes. I suspect a significant portion of Orlov’s struggles without the puck were systemic, but he also would do well to bone up on his play without the puck. Once he does, he’d be a complete player– though probably not the offensive defenseman we thought he’d be.
Orlov just doesn’t generate that much offense individually. He ranks 141st out of 195 D-men in both shot rate and shot attempt rate. For a player some have called the next Mike Green, he’s shoots more like Karl Alzner. That doesn’t mean he’s bad– at all; he’s just a different kind of player. I actually think there’s a very high ceiling on Orlov. He’s already good, but with a few tweaks and in a better system he could one day become a Norris candidate.
Why didn’t Oates play Orlov? How do you apportion blame for Orlov’s on-ice save percentage: him, the system, and bad luck? What would you want to see out of him next season? Do you think I’m high for saying he could be a Norris candidate someday?
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