Dmitry Orlov: 2013-14 Season Review

Photo: Justin K. Aller

Dmitry Orlov‘s season didn’t get started until Thanksgiving, but once he got going he was darn good. Still, I can’t help but think that he’s not the kind of player we used to think he was.

By the Numbers

54 Games played
19.2 Average time on ice per game
3 Goals
8 Assists
51.3% Shot attempt percentage during 5v5
47.8% Goal percentage during 5v5
7.3% On-ice shooting percentage during 5v5
92.0% On-ice saving percentage during 5v5

Peter’s Take

Adam Oates did not like Orlov’s play and declined to give him a sweater through the season’s first two months. To keep an escape clause in his contract for going into effect, George McPhee kept Orlov bouncing between Hershey and Arlington that whole time– a pretty wretched situation for the young Russian defenseman. By the end of November, Orlov requested a trade– but instead he got ice time. One wonders if Oates changed his mind or if his hand was forced.

Once Orlov hit the playing surface, he did better than anyone else at driving possession (relatively). But that didn’t translate into goals– Orlov’s goal percentage during 5v5 was 3.5 percent lower than his possession, well into the red. That’s mostly due to bad save percentages by the Caps when Orlov was on the ice, and it leads us to a quandary: is that Orly’s fault? There were certainly plenty of defensive miscues on Dmitry’s part– particularly on those way-too-frequent odd-man rushes. I suspect a significant portion of Orlov’s struggles without the puck were systemic, but he also would do well to bone up on his play without the puck. Once he does, he’d be a complete player– though probably not the offensive defenseman we thought he’d be.

Orlov just doesn’t generate that much offense individually. He ranks 141st out of 195 D-men in both shot rate and shot attempt rate. For a player some have called the next Mike Green, he’s shoots more like Karl Alzner. That doesn’t mean he’s bad– at all; he’s just a different kind of player. I actually think there’s a very high ceiling on Orlov. He’s already good, but with a few tweaks and in a better system he could one day become a Norris candidate.

Orly on RMNB

In Pictures

A sea of orange parted for this perfect shot.

This next one is a different goal, I swear.

Look at the work Jason Chimera does up front to allow this scoarlov.

This whole “carry my bags” thing is still really weird to me.

Cute.

Your Turn

Why didn’t Oates play Orlov? How do you apportion blame for Orlov’s on-ice save percentage: him, the system, and bad luck? What would you want to see out of him next season? Do you think I’m high for saying he could be a Norris candidate someday?

Read more: Japers Rink, Peerless

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  • Henrik

    Orlov is the king!

  • Connor

    I am really high on Orlov, he has so much potential and has shown flashes of great offensive play. I loved watching him jump in on the rush towards the end of the season. I think in 2 or 3 years we could see the top pair being Orlov-Carlson. Followed by Alzner-Bowey. And then a Schmitty-Wey-Carrick 3rd.

  • james

    I think Orlov’s low offensive numbers are almost entirely attributable to the system and poor 5v5 state of the Caps overall last season. Oates constantly emphasized ‘defensive responsibility’ being the key to Orlov’s staying with the team, in effect handicapping his offensive instincts and high risk playing style. Pair him with Carlson, Alzner, or better yet, a solid defensive free agent signing and Dima breaks out next year.

  • tpr04

    I got the sense with Orlov that he tended to move the puck himself as the game progressed and he got more and more frustrated with the system. Of course, the system didn’t work, nor did it work when some followed it and some didn’t. So what we got with Orlov was flashes of what he could be. The raw talent is unquestionably there – he can skate, hit (rare for Caps defenders), move the puck, and, despite your comparison to Alzner, fire a very hard shot (my guess is that he probably hit more posts than any other Caps defender this year, if not any other player).

    I don’t agree that he has Norris level skills, but he does have top 4 level skills. He’s a guy that would probably see a huge progression under a coach like Trotz.

  • Pat Magee

    Gonna be a beast for a long time…. I wanna see 27-52 81-74 88-61 with Carrick getting a full season with the bears.

  • Lawrence

    Think it may be time to move Orlov into the #1 PP guy, he looked great quarterbacking the Russian’s before he got injured. I don’t know what you meant by the Alzner comment, but I see Orlov as having a bomb of a shot, maybe the hardest on our team (other than you know who). Orlov is like a 9/10 in offense, Alzner is more like a 5/10 and maybe even lower. I think a very likely scenario is Greenie gets moved at the deadline this year, giving the reigns to Orlov. Would love to see us get a great two way vet Dman that could pair with Orlov and run a top 4 that will compete with the best in the league for years to come.

  • Matt Lauer

    I like Orlov a lot. I agree about the miscues, but those are fixable. And, at any rate, I think they decreased over time. Otherwise, he’s very strong, he moves the puck well, skates quite nicely, and has a great shot (that just needs a little more aim). I would not let this season be our final judgment on him.

  • JenniferH

    I think he’s young and his mistakes I blame on Oates and his inexperience. What I really liked about him is that he obviously learned from his mistakes and he got better and better. I hope to see him in a Caps jersey for a long time. (And I hope his injury heals nicely and quickly and cleanly!)

  • Jack Soule

    In the absolute best way possible, he reminds me of Subban. Not at all a Green type player, but I think the similarity in his skating and puck handling style is eerily similar to Subban’s. They both also have incredibly heavy shots, strong and stocky shoulders for big hits, both like to lay hip checks, both great dekers, both very strong on the stick and in the skates and can wheel past multiple forecheckers to get out of the zone and drive a fast paced rush. Orlov’s style of play is the fast-paced, quick transition, possession style of play the NHL is trending toward and this team would do well to build a system around Orlov type players. I thought, accounting for rookie mistakes and a bit of a North American style learning curve, that Orlov was one of our best players. The future is bright with a guy like him showing such talent in his first year (especially when his first year was one in which Oates’ systems handicapped the entire organization.)

  • RESmith

    I share the optimism for Orlov. I’ve been a broken record with this but he reminds me a lot of Alexi Zhitnik except a much faster skater. Zhitnik was never a Norris candidate but he was a solid two way defenseman with a long career.

    I think early this year Orlov was guilty of doing too much and why his 5v5 goal percentage wasn’t stellar. But I felt late in the season the coaches had got him to settle down and let the play come him instead of forcing it. The stretch of 5-10 games after his suspension for the hit on Giroux was the best I had ever seen him play. He was patient, staying in his lanes where he allowed his skating to always keep in position. If he plays like that next year, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him in the top pairing. He can be that good. Just has to develop consistency.