Much like in the NHL, the KHL has farm teams. And since Metallurg Novokuznetsk failed to make the KHL Playoffs, the team decided to option their finest young defensive prospect, Caps 2009 2nd Round Draft Pick Dmitri Orlov, down to the MHL’s Novokuznetsk Bears. (Bears? Are you SERIOUS?!) And for those who are confused, the MHL is Russian for Molodyozhnaya Hockeynaya Liga or the Junior Hockey League. It’s exactly like the AHL, the only difference being that the MHL is for younger players only.
Anyways, lucky for us, Fedor translated an exclusive interview between Andrey Osadchenko and Dmitri Orlov. Below the jump, Dmitri talks about being the highest scoring MHL Defenseman for the month of February, what it was like to miss the playoffs, and why he picked the number 9.
Andrey Osadchenko – Dmitri, we extend our congratulations for you being the highest scoring defenseman in the MHL for the month of February.
Dmitri Orlov – I didn’t know it (smiling). I like it, sure.
AO – You’ve continued your torrid pace in March: Now you have 13 points (7+6) in 9 games. Why have you been so successful?
DO – I always like to go to attack. I even played forward some time ago. Also, I played the entire year in the KHL, and that’s pretty good hockey. So I’m much more confident in the MHL. And that looks to be the reason why I’ve created so many opportunities.
AO – Fans still remember your fantastic bull-s eye goal against Severstal [Ed. Note - against Avtomobilist, Dmitri didn't score against Severstal] after your big run from your zone (see video here). Do the defensemen in the MHL give you a chance to do something like this?
DO – I was lucky there. I did what the situation asked me to do, go and score. I think that here, there is a pretty good level of teams. It’s definitely better than in First League (League of non-junior farms and low-level pro teams). And it’s more interesting. I think the MHL will continue to grow. People already visit our games, and it’s always a joy to play for a big public.
AO – From your perspective, what’s the biggest difference between the KHL and MHL.
DO – There aren’t many. Just the opposing players in the KHL are older, more experienced and skilled.
AO – Which of the goals that you’ve scored in the MHL do you remember the most?
DO - Against Reactor. I had lots of opportunities in that game but I couldn’t find the net. And then in 3rd period I finally scored. I was very happy.
AO – You scored only 7 points (4+3) playing for Metallurg this season in 41 games. Did you change something in your game when you were sent down to the Bears?
DO – No, I just am more sure about myself. I can go forward without fear sometimes. The KHL [season] started off good for me, I scored a lot at the start of it. But my power started to leave me later. That’s why I was not very good at the WJC.
AO – You played two games against either Omsk Hawks, Bars, White Bears and Reactor. Which team impressed you more than the others?
DO – The Chelyabinsk White Bears. Both times we played against them our rosters included a lot of youngsters from the 1st team and the games were interesting and close. We won one and they won one, difference was one goal each.
AO – It’s very rare to see a defenseman wear #9. But you chose it for the National Team, Metallurg and the Bears. Why do you like this number so much?
DO – Earlier I didn’t use it on the national team… I played for two years as a forward because I was pretty small for a defenseman. I was pretty good, but I came back to the defense, because I was more confident there.
AO – Everyone wanted to be like someone in their childhood. Who were your idols?
DO – I always liked offensive defensemen like Slava Fetisov, Bobby Orr, Kirill Koltsov because I like strikes too.
AO – Will the success of the Novokuznetsk Bears cancel out Metallurg’s fail this year?
DO – I think so. It’s a pity that Metallurg couldn’t make the playoffs. We had chances but we weren’t lucky enough. But it’s alright in the MHL so far. We helped the Bears make the playoffs. We’ll play against “Krylya Sovetov”, and we’ll try not to lose face out there and go to the second round.
AO – A year ago you became a Champion of Russia playing for the junior team of Metallurg (1991-92 year of birth). Can the Bears repeat this success in the MHL?
DO – I can only say that we’ll try to make history.