Photo: Rob Carr
Capitals defenseman Dmitry Orlov has been nominated for the 2016 Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy. Nominees are voted upon by the team’s local chapter of the PHWA. Per NHL.com, Masterton Trophy nominees should epitomize “perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey.”
Orlov is a fitting nominee. This season marks his return to the NHL as a core part of the Caps’ defense. Under Adam Oates, Orlov was not afforded a chance to become a top-four defenseman; in 2013-14 he bounced between a limited role in the NHL and the AHL If that season was a disappointment, Orlov’s 2014-15 season (or lack thereof) was disastrous — or “forgettable,” in Orlov’s own words.
Orlov’s wrist was broken during Team Russia’s game against the United States in the 2014 IIHF World Championship. After surgery and extensive rehab, Orlov was projected to return in six months. However, complications, including an infection, precluded Orlov’s return. He finally was ready to play in April 2015, but instead of seeing NHL action, he suited up for three games with the Hershey Bears.
This season, Orlov has finally been an important part of the Caps’ defense. He’s set career highs in games played (74) and totaled 28 points (8G, 20A). He’s also been one of the Caps’ best possession players, sporting a team-high plus-3.97-percent possession score. If insane, clutch goals are your thing, Orlov’s got you covered. And did we mention he lays down hits like nobody’s business?
While some of this season’s Masterton nominees have been questionable, Orlov’s nomination is unquestionably deserved. Rallying from a difficult injury is tough; rallying from a difficult injury to have an incredibly successful season certainly meets the Masterton’s trifecta of requirements.
Jose Theodore became the Caps’ sole Masterton winner in 2010. This year’s winner will be announced at the NHL Awards in June. Good luck and congratulations, Orly!