Dmitri Orlov during warm-ups in his first pro game with the Hershey Bears

Photo credit: Ian Oland

In the Hershey Bears 4-3 win over the Albany Devils on Saturday night, teenage Caps prospect Dmitri Orlov impressed during his first game in North America. Not only did he register a point in his AHL debut, his first period of play was so solid that he even inspired the normally reserved Tim Leone to exclaim,”that’s the best first 20 minutes from a 19-year-old D I’ve ever seen in this league.

For Caps fans who are frustrated with Washington’s once potent but now sputtering power play, Orlov’s accelerated development is nothing short of fantastic news. Hershey’s bench boss Mark French, encouraged by how much Dima seamlessly blended into Hershey’s lineup in the opening minutes, rode his hot hand using the Novokuznetsk, Russia native on the second power play unit later in the game. Orlov responded by unleashing several booming slap shots at Albany netminder Mike McKenna and eventually collected an assist on Steve Pinizzotto’s second period power play goal.

Speaking to the media after Monday’s trades, Capitals General Manager George McPhee had nothing but praise for Orlov: “We’re pretty high on this player. He’s a mobile puck moving defenseman,” McPhee said. “Really good on the power play… he’s got an edge to him. He can hit and play tough. And he really wants to be here.”

RMNB’s own Igor Kleyner caught up with Orlov after his first pro game Saturday to discuss the Bears, the AHL and yes, even Evgeny Kuznetsov’s wedding. Below the jump, we offer the translation of his conversation.

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Dmitri Orlov taking in his first AHL game in Hershey

Orlov took in his first ever AHL game tonight at Giant Center. (Photo by SHOE’s Kyle M.)

Since being drafted in the second round of the 2009 draft by the Capitals Dmitri Orlov has emerged as one of the top defensive prospects in Washington’s system, spurred by his solid play across the pond. Last year after Kontinental Hockey League’s Metallurg Novokuznetsk failed to qualify for the playoffs, the club decided to send him down to the Novokuznetsk Bears of the MHL, the KHL’s developmental league. After totaling only four goals and three assists in 43 KHL games, Orlov quickly found his game in the junior circuit, leading the Bears to the MHL Finals.

Orlov’s nine goals and 10 assists in the playoffs ranked him third among all skaters. He was awarded several top honors including the Davydov trophy as the MHL Playoff MVP and was also named the best defenseman of the MHL Finals and Semifinals.

Dima — as some fans know him — followed up his successful 2009-10 with two goals and 10 assists for Metallurg in 2010-11. Orlov also won a gold medal at the 2011 World Junior Championships with the U20 Russian National Team, playing on the top defensive pairing. He was named first-team all WJC along with fellow Caps prospect Evgeny Kuznetsov.

Since Metallurg once again failed to make the playoffs this year and finished with the KHL’s worst record, Orlov and the club reached an agreement allowing him to start his professional career in the Capitals organization earlier than expected. On Saturday, he flew to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania before taking in Sunday’s Hershey Bears game against the Charlotte Checkers at Giant Center. Orlov is expected to officially sign with the Bears of the American Hockey League on Monday.

This is not Orlov’s first stint in America. He attended the Capitals 2009 and 2010 Development Camps, winning over Caps fans with his love of cupcakes in the process.

RMNB’s resident translator Igor Kleyner translated the 19 year-old Novokuznetsk native’s final interview with Metallurg before departing for the United States. Check it out below the jump.

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Evgeny Kuznetsov drives hard to the net

Photo credit: BuffaloWorldJuniors.com

As we already wrote, the Caps were well represented in 2011 IIHF World Junior Championship, sporting five prospects in the tournament. Philipp Grubauer played on the weak German team and Patrick Wey had a situational role on the bronze-medal USA squad.  The other three Caps prospects played in the finals and each had great success in the tournament. So what did they do in the gold medal game? Here is our look at their best moments.

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Prospect Watch: Russians Win WJC, Eakin Gets Traded

RMNB Prospect Watch

Ed. note – Fedor Fedin and Roman Piontkovsky of GlobalCapsFans live to dish out salacious gossip about those players orbiting just out side the Capitals’ exosphere. Here is your sorta bi-weekly edition about kids in the Caps system (CHL, USHL, NCAA, KHL, TL;DR).  It’s Prospect Watch!

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Evgeny Kuznetsov: “Next Up is the Stanley Cup”

Russia: The 2011 World Junior Champions

Caps prospects Dmitri Orlov (center, holding the trophy’s handle) and Evgeny Kuznetsov (bottom right, biting his medal enthusiastically) pose with Team Russia following their thrilling 5-3 victory over Canada in the WJC’s Gold Medal Game. (Photo credit: Nathan Denette)

Evgeny Kuznetsov embraces Head Coach Valeri Bragin. (Photo credit: Rick Stewart)

HUGS! Evgeny Kuznetsov embraces Head Coach Valeri Bragin. (Photo credit: Rick Stewart)

If you’ve been paying close attention to RMNB over the past few months, you were already well-aware of the gem that the Capitals have in Evgeny Kuznetsov. Kuznetsov, who has been tearing it up this season with the KHL’s Traktor Chelyabinsk, found his game when it mattered most in this year’s World Junior Championship. The Russian-born winger finished as the tournament’s second-leading scorer with four goals and eight assists, and led Russia to its first WJC gold medal since 2003.

In the quarterfinals against Finland, Kuznetsov single-handedly brought his team back from a 3-1 deficit registering a goal, an assist, and the overtime game-winner. The 18-year old then followed up that clutch performance with yet another one against the Canadians in the Gold Medal Game. In front of a boisterous pro-Canadian crowd at Buffalo’s HSBC Arena, Kuz assisted on three goals in the third period, including a no-look pass to Vladimir Tarasenko that yielded the game-tying goal.

Suffice to say, when Kuznetsov landed back home in Russia this past Saturday, he was met with a large media horde. RMNB’s Igor Kleyner has translated two Russian articles from this past weekend, which detail Evgeny’s feelings on his new gold medal, what it was like to play in front of such a hostile crowd, and that whole ‘underage-drinking/being-kicked-off-a-plane’ scandal.

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The 2011 IIHF World Junior Championships, which will be held in Buffalo and Niagara Falls from Dec. 26 – Jan. 5, will feature the best of the best in junior hockey. Roman Piontkovsky, Alessandro Seren Rosso, and myself will tell you which Caps prospects will be fighting for their respective countries and what we can expect of them.

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RMNB Prospect Watch

Ed. note – The sole duty of Fedor Fedin and Roman Piontkovsky of GlobalCapsFans is to serve you tasty morsels of news about your favorite not-yet-but-maybe-one-day Caps. Russian Machine gears up once more to give you your bi-weekly offering of players in the far reaches of the Caps system (CHL, USHL, NCAA, KHL, DADT).  Prospect Watch incoming!

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RMNB Prospect Watch

Ed. note – Fedor Fedin and Roman Piontkovsky of GlobalCapsFans are not at fault for the tardiness of this week’s entry. That’s all on Peter. Regardless, Russian Machine is proud to provide the bi-weekly lowdown on players somewhere beyond the Caps system (CHL, USHL, NCAA, KHL, XBOX360).  Prospect Watch incoming!

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RMNB Prospect Watch

Ed. note – Once more, Fedor Fedin and Roman Piontkovsky of GlobalCapsFans emerge from the Russian wilds to deliver the straight dope on all players somewhere outside the Caps system (CHL, USHL, NCAA, KHL, MSNBC). Here comes Prospect Watch!

In today’s issue, you’ll learn about how Cody Eakin’s big night fell on Cody Eakin bobblehead night. You’ll despair in the troubles Dmitri Orlov’s club is having. And you’ll want to send a care package to Greg Burke as he recovers from the kissing disease.

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Prospect Watch: Anderson Saves, Russians Come Back

RMNB Prospect Watch

Ed. note – Right on schedule, our own Fedor Fedin and Roman Piontkovsky of GlobalCapsFans swoop in to the Russian Machine roost to provide the bi-weekly skinny on players somewhere beyond the Caps system (CHL, USHL, NCAA, KHL, KMFDM).  Hide your kids, hide your wife, here comes Prospect Watch!

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