The Washington Capitals apparently were within a hair’s breadth of losing another young, offensively gifted defenseman in Dmitry Orlov, less than two weeks after the expansion draft left Nate Schmidt stranded in the desert. At least, that’s what Orlov’s agent, Mark Gandler, told Sovetsky Sport’s Pavel Lysenkov on Friday.
The good news, of course, is that Orlov stayed put, and will reclaim his spot on the Capitals first pairing next year. But as with most things, the picture is not universally rosy.
“CSKA made a very serious offer to Orlov,” said Gandler. “We considered it very carefully. If it hadn’t worked out for Dmitry with Washington, then, as I told CSKA’s front office, we would have called them on July 1 and begun to finalize a contract.”
Gandler went on to add, however, that “Dima’s priority was the NHL. CSKA knew that, as I was in contact with the club and talked about that fact openly. In the end, Orlov was very pleased to sign the contract with Washington.”
Gandler also discussed his thinking on the Caps’ management, as well as the route Orlov might take as he continues to develop as a player. Orlov’s agent admitted to being slightly dissatisfied with his client’s ice time last season, which averaged 19:32 according to Hockey-Reference.com At the same time, he praised Caps’ general manager Brian MacLellan as “honest.”
“When I met with [MacLellan], it was clear that Dima’s role with Washington is going to grow [next season]. Those are not empty words” from the Caps’ GM.
“I anticipate Orlov will get at least another minute-and-a-half [of ice time per game],” said Gandler. “They will start to rely on him more on special teams. For example, during the regular season last year, he barely played at all on the penalty kill. But during the playoffs, he went out [on the PK] and really showed his strengths. I also think Orlov is going to get more time on the powerplay.”
But to spare you any thought of setting your woes aside for the summer now that Orlov has re-signed, Gandler’s interview went to a dark, dark place.
“Right now, I think the pendulum is tipping toward a player-initiated strike,” rather than a league lockout, said Gandler. “The players are really unhappy with the fact that they’re paying 14 or 15 percent of their salaries back to the NHL via the so-called escrow mechanism.”
Escrow is a lesser-known and exceedingly complex process governed by the current Collective Bargaining Agreement. The excellent blog NHL Numbers did a comprehensive post on the current system late last year. In brief, if either the players or the owners make more than their allotted 50 percent of projected league-wide revenues in a given season, they pay into an escrow account to compensate the other side. Right now, according to people who actually understand these things, the players are making more than the owners, so thee players are paying into escrow.
The result is about 710 large, angry men with sticks, who may choose to terminate the current CBA early, at least according to Gandler. While the agent is not by any means a neutral party, and as such his statements should be taken with a grain of salt, his reasoning makes a certain degree of sense. As Gandler points out, “the league was willing to let players go to the Olympics in exchange for a guarantee that the CBA would not be cut short.”
That the players did not accept that deal suggests another labor showdown may be on the horizon.
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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