Capitals defenseman Dmitry Orlov is coming off the best season of his career, but the 25-year-old Russian will be a restricted free agent this July. The Caps control Orlov’s rights at the NHL level, but he also has suitors overseas.
Friday morning, CSKA President Igor Esmantovich announced that the Moscow-based KHL team is in talks with Orlov.
“We are conducting serious negotiations with Orlov,” Esmantovich said to championat.com. “We have an understanding regarding this player. The head coach wants to see him on the team.”
Esmantovich also said that CSKA is in talks with Roman Lyubimov and an unnamed player on one of the Stanley Cup finalists (Pittsburgh or Nashville).
CSKA negotiating with Orlov should not come as a surprise. Orlov’s hometown Metallurg Novokuznetsk traded the defenseman’s rights back in October 2013, along with Ivan Telegin, to CSKA for cash. Orlov remains a restricted free agent in the KHL until he’s 28-years-old.
Playing in the KHL next season would essentially guarantee Orlov a spot on the Russian Olympic team in Pyeongchang. Orlov, who just won a bronze medal during the 2017 World Championship, is one of Russia’s top defensemen. In April, Gary Bettman announced that NHL players would not be participating in the 2018 Winter Olympics. Caps’ Russians Alex Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov, and Orlov all said they would fly over and participate regardless, but the chair of the Russian Hockey Federation, Roman Rotenberg, said Russia would not allow them to play without NHL consent.
“The last word belongs to the NHL,” Rotenberg said. He then suggested that the only way players could play in the Olympics is by signing in the KHL.
Just after Russia’s bronze-medal victory over Finland at the 2017 World Championships, Rotenberg, told R-Sport’s Semyon Galkevich that the body would “certainly do everything possible so that the members of the National Team return to the KHL.”
“We know that the contracts for Evgeny Kuznetsov and Dmitry Orlov are up soon,” Rotenberg said. “And yes, we have some people who left [the KHL] for North America, but we have some guys coming back, too. The Federation will do the utmost to ensure that the guys who played at the World Championships stay in the KHL.”
While Orlov could have interest in returning to Russia, he also is giving himself more leverage with the Capitals. Orlov, who craves a long-term deal, is coming off two straight short-term pacts. Orlov previously signed a two-year, $4 million deal in 2014 and re-signed for $2.75 million last summer.
In an interview Friday, Orlov’s wife Varvara spoke to championat.com and revealed her husband’s desire to no longer play under one or two-year deals.
“During the worlds, the question (of signing in Russia) did not come up, and now its up to the agent to do his job,” Orlova said. “For me it’s important that Dima plays, and for which team is of secondary importance. Of course we would like a long-term deal because mentally it is hard to be on pins and needles every year.”
Orlova was then asked if the couple would be ready to move this offseason.
“It’s not a problem,” Orlova said. “If it’s Washington, I’ll be very happy. We have friends here. If it’s a different team, we will pack our things and go. I am not afraid of change.”
Translations by Igor Kleyner and Graham Dumas.
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