Photo credit: Greg Flume

The final day of media availability is often referred to by reporters as the longest day of the year — and probably the least enjoyable. The news about Dale Hunter deciding to go back to his digs in London created a lot of buzz, and stories were told– like about how Jay Beagle tried to put his skates on over his swollen, broken foot before Game Six. But the general mood was one of somber –- not surprising, given how close the team came to Eastern Conference Finals.

The Capitals have a handful of free agents to deal with during this offseason, but none of them are as high-profile or as controversial as Alexander Semin. Will he bolt for the riches of the KHL, sign with another NHL team –- or return to the Capitals? I didn’t expect a straight answer to the question, so we just talked about… well, whatever he wanted. That includes Hunter hockey vs. Boudreau’s open style, the success of Braden Holtby, and his ice time.

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Photo credit: Chris Gordon

As I was wrapping up my chat with Alex Semin just outside Caps locker room at Kettler last Sunday, Dmitry Orlov was just coming off the ice.

While it is official RMNB policy that any time is a good time to interview Dima, I was a bit hesitant to put my recorder in the young Caps defenseman’s face. After all, anybody can understand how frustrating it must be for Dmitry to fulfill his dream of becoming an NHL player — and then to find himself firmly planted in the press box for the duration of the team’s playoff run, even after playing in all but a handful of regular season games since he was called up in late November.

Luckily for me, Dima came to my rescue by initiating the conversation himself. “Come on, interview me,” he said with a wry, but welcoming smile. “I am a forgotten man now. I am not playing, so nobody wants to talk to me!” I didn’t need to be asked twice.

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Photo credit: Greg Fiume

Google “enigmatic hockey player,” and your search results will likely be dominated by references to a certain Russian winger of the Washington Capitals –- not the team captain and perennial All-Star Alex Ovechkin, but rather his compatriot Alexander Semin.

Nobody ever accused The Other Alex of lacking the talent to play the game at the highest level, but he does have a reputation for running hot and cold. It’s no wonder no one ever knows exactly what to expect from the twenty-eight-year-old Sibiryak — even though he is currently the longest-serving member of the Capitals. It certainly doesn’t help that the last time you read an interview with Alexander Semin was– well… let’s just say a long time ago.

In an attempt to make a small dent in the shroud of mystery surrounding the Capitals winger, RMNB caught up with Semin at Kettler shortly after Capitals practice on Sunday. Sasha talked to us about playing the new defensive system, compared the two All-Star goalies the Caps have faced in this year Stanley Cup playoffs, and shared his thoughts on the upcoming 10th anniversary of being drafted by the Capitals.

And did he ever want to be an astronaut, just like Ilya Bryzgalov? Read on!

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Orlov and other Caps scratches look on from the press box. (Photo credit: Clydeorama)

It’s been a season of unexpected trials and disappointments for the Washington Capitals, but if there’s been one pleasant surprise, it’s been Dmitry Orlov. The young defenseman was not expected to make a permanent impact with the club this season, but after being called up on an emergency basis early in the year, Orlov simply earned his keep, becoming a mainstay even on a roster that frequently had defensemen to spare. Orlov has yet to play in the postseason, with the coaching staff so far relying on more experienced players to man the blueline, but if the Caps manage to make it past the first round, he may just get his chance.

Before the playoffs began, Orlov talked with Hockey World’s Andrey Osadchenko about about Alex Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov, and his unexpected breakthrough year. I provide a translation below.

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Evgeny Kuznetsov: All Signs Point to Washington

Kuznetsov works out with the Russian National Team.

The last couple of weeks have been pretty crazy for the Caps fans: the late -season, nerve-wracking, but ultimately successful playoff push; the first round series against the Bruins with Thomas-vs-Obama-gate, Karl Alzner waking the bear, Brad Marchand’s impeccable impersonation of Greg Louganis, Nicky Backstrom’s return as Mean Lars — and even some pretty decent hockey at times.

Meanwhile, half a world away, at Team Russia’s training facility Novogorsk, the Caps’ highly touted prospect, Evgeny Kuznetsov, is quietly preparing for his first World Championship tournament (at least when the power doesn’t go out). Kuznetsov found some time to talk to the Dinara Kafiskina of Sportbox.ru about his KHL playoff experience, his chances to make Team Russia’s final roster for the, and… ah, who are we kidding? We know you only care about one thing: Is Kuzya coming to Washington? Sure enough, that very question comes up at the very end of the interview.

Follow us past the jump for our translation and analysis.

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Nine days ago, on KHL-TV’s “The Icing Show,” 19-year-old Caps prospect Evgeny Kuznetsov revealed that he would stay in Russia next season.

“To be honest, my decision has been reached,” Kuznetsov told host Igor Larin. “It is my intention to continue my career in the KHL. At the same time there is no clarity as to which club it will be.”

Since then, no context has been gleaned from his statement until now.

Earlier today, Caps prospect Evgeny Kuznetsov scored twice, including the game-winner, to help push Traktor Chelyabinsk to the Eastern Conference Finals. In an interview with Rossiya 2 TV after the game, Kuznetsov admitted that his statement about staying in KHL was not serious. “I said that I am staying so they’d leave me alone.”

Below the jump, I offer a complete translation of his comments.

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With Evgeny Kuznetsov stating his desire to stay in the KHL but possibly switching teams, and Traktor management— well, disagreeing, we explored what Kuznetsov’s actual options are this Summer. Is being a restricted free agent in the KHL the same thing as being an RFA in the NHL? Can the KHL just dump buckets of cash at Kuznetsov’s front door? Do the Caps have any chance of landing him, especially considering the monetary limitations of the NHL’s entry-level contracts?

Below, I explain the rights of a restricted free agent according to the KHL’s Legal Regulations handbook (the league’s governing document), what Evgeny Kuznetsov’s options are, and if the Capitals still have any shot of bringing the talented winger over to North America.

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Traktor’s director Vladimir Krechin. (Photo credit: Traktor’s official website)

For a few weeks now the saga of Evgeny Kuznetsov has been dominating the hearts and minds of Caps fans. The question being, where will Kuzya be playing next year? Is he going to join the NHL team that selected him in the first round of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft? Will he stay true to his home town and remain a Traktorist for another season? Or will he prefer the greener pastures of another KHL club, perhaps a powerhouse like SKA St. Petersburg or even one of Traktor’s main KHL rivals like Salavat Yulaev Ufa?

The latest development in this story came in an interview Kuznetsov gave earlier this week to the host of KHL-TV’s “The Icing Show,” Igor Larin. Kuznetsov purportedly stated his intention to remain in the KHL, but not necessarily with his current club. KHL-TV has not yet made video of this interview available online.

Many Russian hockey analysts and former players have given their opinions on his decision since then, yet Kuznetsov’s team, Traktor Cheylabinsk, has stayed silent. Until now.

Traktor’s Director Vladimir Krechin spoke to Sport-Express’s Yuriy Golyshak after his team’s 2-1 victory over Ak Bars on Friday. My translation of their interview is below.

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Dmitry Orlov: “I Would Like to Score More”

Photo credit: Patrick McDermott

“Man, there are three of you!” exclaimed Capitals defenseman Dmitry Orlov in the locker-room following his team’s shutout of the visiting Toronto Maple Leafs, as he found himself surrounded by all three Russian-speaking members of the press covering the game on Sunday evening at Verizon Center – Dmitry Chesnokov of Yahoo Sports, Dmitry Shumin of Sovetsky Sport, and me. “Why do you all want to interview me?” said Dima, “I didn’t really do anything special this game – no goals, no points. You should be interviewing other guys!”

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Photo credit: Rob Carr

The morning after the Washington Capitals suffered a stinging 5-0 defeat at the hands of the visiting New Jersey Devils, the mood at their practice was mixed. There were some lighthearted moments, like Alex Ovechkin falling down after attempting a one-timer and causing Alex Semin to double over laughing. Or a few minutes later, when the birthday boy got into a pretend squabble with Troy Brouwer.

But as the players one by one trickled into the dressing room and began answering the reporter’s questions, Friday night’s performance was on everybody’s mind. How did the youngest member of the Washington Capitals deal with one of the team’s worst showings of the season?

Below the jump, Dmitry Orlov discusses the loss to New Jersey, changing defensive systems, wearing the full cage mask, and Evgeny Kuznetsov’s future.

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