Capitals defenseman Dmitry Orlov is a restricted free agent this July, but there’s no guarantee he will be back in the NHL next season. CSKA, who owns Orlov’s KHL rights until age 28, has expressed strong interest to try and sign the defender this summer.
“We are conducting serious negotiations with Orlov,” Igor Esmantovich said last week. “We have an understanding regarding this player. The head coach wants to see him on the team.”
Thursday, the team’s head coach Igor Nikitin spoke to sportfm.ru and confirmed the news.
“We have discussed the improvements with the management,” Nikitin said. “We need two experienced defensemen. Need to reinforce goaltending. We are working from what we have right now. Orlov? Of course we need him. All I can say, I would like to see him on our team. [Flyers forward Roman] Lyubimov? We need him too.”
The KHL could be an attractive option for Orlov in the short term as it practically guarantees him a roster spot on Team Russia in the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang. While the KHL is struggling overall economically — two teams were recently contracted from the league — CSKA has extremely deep pockets. The team is owned by Russia’s largest oil company, Rosneft, which is in turn majority-owned by the Russian government.
General manager Brian MacLellan announced Tuesday that the Capitals’ priority in the offseason is re-signing the team’s restricted free agents, who will form the core of the team in the future. MacLellan also stated a desire to negotiate longterm deals with Evgeny Kuznetsov and Orlov.
That would be welcome news to Orlov and his wife Varvara, who have been functioning under one and short-term pacts during the defenseman’s NHL career.
“For me it’s important that Dima plays, and for which team is of secondary importance,” Orlova said. “Of course we would like a long-term deal because mentally it is hard to be on pins and needles every year.”
Translation by Igor Kleyner.
Headline photo: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images
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