Alex Ovechkin stepped onto the ice Wednesday afternoon, as usual, in a red sweater. But instead of saying Россия, his jersey said Washington Capitals. As the both captain of Team Russia and a nationalist, Ovechkin didn’t want to be in Arlington, Virginia, skating at Kettler Capitals Iceplex. Instead, he wanted to be playing for a champion at the World Cup of Hockey in Toronto along with Capitals teammates Evgeny Kuznetsov and Dmitry Orlov.
But the Russians ran into Canada in the semifinals, resulting in another international defeat. Back with the Capitals, Ovechkin tried to move past the loss.
“You can talk about what if, what if,” he said. “It was fun. It was nice to represent my country out there and we do our best.”
After months of waiting, the Washington Capitals have re-signed restricted free agent Dmitry Orlov to one-year contract worth $2.57 million. With Washington’s training camp beginning on Friday, the need to finalize a deal was pressing, though Orlov is currently competing for Russia at the World Cup of Hockey. A source close to the negotiations told RMNB the deal was imminent shortly before the deal was announced by the team.
With Orlov’s salary on the books, the Capitals have less than a million dollars in cap room, according to GeneralFanager.com. Orlov, 25, played in all 82 games last season, posting impressive metrics, despite being stuck on the third pairing. He missed the entire previous season with a wrist injury suffered at the World Championships. Orlov’s minutes are expected to increase this year. In August, head coach Barry Trotz said he envisioned Orlov in a top-four role playing alongside Matt Niskanen or John Carlson.
Despite the regular season looming, Capitals defenseman Dmitry Orlov is still not re-signed. Alex Ovechkin spoke to CSN Mid-Atlantic’s Tarik El-Bashir about Orlov’s ongoing contract talks, stating, “I hope [Orlov’s] going to stay.”
On Sunday, Team Russia arrived at the Pittsburgh Penguins’ practice facility in Cranberry Township, Pennsylvania, to train for several days ahead of their game Thursday against Team Canada.
The bizarreness of the situation was not lost on Alex Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov, and Dmitry Orlov, whose Caps team was eliminated by rival Pittsburgh during the 2015-16 playoffs. While the teammates practiced, there was a giant Mario Lemieux banner hanging at the south end of the rink. According to CSN Mid-Atlantic’s Tarik El-Bashir, Ovechkin’s temporary locker was placed right beside where Penguins’ captain Sidney Crosby normally dresses too.
Thursday, Team Russia hosted the Czech Republic at St. Petersberg’s Yubileyny Arena. It was the first time the Caps troika of Alex Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov, and Dmitry Orlov had played an organized game since winning a bronze medal in the 2016 World Championship on May 22.
After falling behind early, Russia took a commanding lead before needing a ridiculous split save from Sergei Bobrovski in the final minute to hold onto the 4-3 win. Dmitry Orlov tallied a secondary assist while Alex Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov went scoreless.
Last week, Barry Trotz said he envisions Dmitry Orlov playing in the Caps’ top four this season, paired with either Matt Niskanen or John Carlson. If Orlov were to be deployed as a top-four defender, it would have a ripple effect on the rest of the defense. For one, Brooks Orpik would likely be playing on the third pairing. It could also mean a reunion of Carlson and Karl Alzner, a pairing we’ve seen much less of since Niskanen and Orpik came to town.
But the part of this possible deployment I’d be most interested in seeing is Orlov paired with Niskanen. Doing this would not only mean more minutes for Orlov, who drove shot attempt differentials better than any other defender on the team last season, but it would mean minutes with a player whose steady defensive style could be a great compliment to Orlov’s high-risk, high-reward style.
Monday, Team Russia held their first official practice for the World Cup of Hockey and I’ve got some great news. Washington Capitals brothers from another mother Evgeny Kuznetsov and Alex Ovechkin have been paired together on the first line along with Lightning winger Nikita Kucherov.
Caps defenseman Dmitry Orlov is also on Russia’s first defense pairing.
With just 44 days remaining until the Capitals’ first preseason game, defenseman Dmitry Orlov has yet to re-sign. This offseason, Orlov got married, celebrated his 25th birthday–and elected not to file for arbitration. However, a Tuesday morning press conference revealed the state of Orlov’s contract talks and the role the team envisions for him.
Capitals coaching staff expressed little doubt that Orlov would be re-signed this offseason.
Evgeny Kuznetsov is a humble guy. If you ask him about a thrilling goal he scored, he’ll brush it off as as a minor contribution in a larger effort. One of the best centers in the game, Kuznetsov will be sure to thank teammates who had nothing to do with the play.
But Kuznetsov is boastful about one thing: his purported skills in Family Feud, a show to which he is unabashedly addicted.
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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