Orlov in 2011 (Photo: Kyle Mace)
When the Caps finally and truly return on October 8, it will have been 543 days since Dmitry Orlov last suited up for real NHL play. A shootout loss in April of 2014 was the last time the Capitals saw Orlov healthy and in regular-season action.
Orlov suffered a wrist injury playing for Team Russia that summer, and due to a long and frustrating series of setbacks he missed the entirety of the 2014-15 season, though he did suit up for Hershey in the spring for a conditioning stint.
The Capitals have four no-doubt defensemen in Carlson, Niskanen, Alzner, and Orpik. The two final spots are more or less up for grabs. While Orlov showed promise a few years ago, he’s missed a significant chunk of time for development. In the meantime, Nate Schmidt impressed many (excluding perhaps his coach) with solid play. Schmidt and Orlov are the likely dudes to take the remaining slots, but not far behind them are Connor Carrick, who might have come a long way since his miserable 2013-14 outing, super prospect Madison Bowey, and some other guys I don’t want to talk about.
At one time, Orlov was considered the next Mike Green. That was wrong, but he may yet become an important part of this club. We saw that potential in Monday’s sleepy preseason scrimmage against the Carolina Hurricanes on Monday night, where Orlov looked capable and comfortable.
But I still can’t get over the 543 days. That is a long time lost for a young player in development. And yet, smart folks are sanguine about Dmitry Orlov.
“He’s a very highly skilled player,” Karl Alzner told Katie Brown of NHL.com, “and he can be a game-breaker for us.”
If Alzner’s right, and I hope he is, it will be a terrific bounce back for Orlov and an important improvement for Washington’s defense.
Besides, it couldn’t hurt our brand. Russian machines and all that.
Russian Machine Never Breaks is not associated with the Washington Capitals; Monumental Sports, the NHL, or its properties. Not even a little bit.
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