Questions for 2015-16: Can Dmitry Orlov Come Back?

Orlov in 2011 (Photo: Kyle Mace)

When the Caps finally and truly return on October 8, it will have been 543 days since Dmitry Orlov last suited up for real NHL play. A shootout loss in April of 2014 was the last time the Capitals saw Orlov healthy and in regular-season action.

Orlov suffered a wrist injury playing for Team Russia that summer, and due to a long and frustrating series of setbacks he missed the entirety of the 2014-15 season, though he did suit up for Hershey in the spring for a conditioning stint.

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Photo: Amanda Bowen

On Saturday, Capitals defenseman Karl Alzner spoke to the media and predicted big things from a player likely slated for the team’s third defensive pairing.

“It’s just fun to see him handle the puck out there and do some of the things he does,” Alzner said to’s Katie Brown. “He’s a very highly skilled player and he can be a game-breaker for us. It’ll be a lot of fun to watch.”

The player Alzner is talking about: Dmitry Orlov.

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Photo: @orlov_09

We have some breaking Caps travel news to report. Caps Russians Evgeny Kuznetsov and Dmitry Orlov boarded a flight at Dulles this afternoon and flew home. Orlov said in his caption, “Have a good summer everyone” in English while sporting some ridiculous slippers.

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A few years ago in Hershey, I told Dmitry Orlov that he should totally get a Twitter account. I explained that he could read our terribly-written bloggy blogs, post selfies with his friends, and be on top of everything – from world news to what Caps fans are saying about him.

Orly looked at me bashfully and said, “No, No, no. That stuff’s not for me.”

Whelp three years later, I’m happy to report a social media miracle has happened. This afternoon, Orlov got on Twitter. He confirmed the news to RMNB.

You can now follow him here at @orlov_09.

(And please do it, we may or may not have a bet going with him that we can get him a few thousand followers by the end of the night.)

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We don’t have many pictures of Dmitry Orlov from this year. This one almost makes up for it. (Photo credit: Eliot J. Schechter)

Dmitry Orlov‘s 2014-15 season stunk — if you can even call it a season. After breaking his wrist playing for the gold medal-winning Russian national team at the 2014 World Championships, Orlov was supposed to be playing by the end of September. Instead, he never played an NHL game this year.

Orlov had numerous complications, with his return constantly getting delayed. He was finally ready to suit up at the end of March, and the Capitals assigned him to Hershey Bears for a conditioning stint. The 23-year-old played three games and rejoined the Caps, but Orlov had fallen in the depth chart by then. Tim Gleason had supplanted him in the lineup, and Nate Schmidt served as Washington’s seventh defensemen. Head coach Barry Trotz showed little interest in dressing someone who had not played in the NHL for a year.

Next season, however, looks to be more promising for Orlov. With Mike Green likely to depart, Orlov could slot into the third pairing alongside fellow RMNB-favorite Schmidt.

“It’s been frustrating that he hasn’t played,” Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan said Monday. “We missed a year of development with him. He’s a good young defenseman. We’re counting coming into our lineup next year and having our coaching staff work with him. I think we’ll see major strides.”

I spoke Orlov about his rough season on breakdown day. It turns out it wasn’t that fun for him. His English is good though!

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Last week, Eric Fehr met the media to update them on the injury that has keep him out of the lineup for most of the playoffs. After two minutes of optimism and indirect answers, the scrum was finished. The day’s routine necessity had been completed. As the rest of the media shuffled away from Fehr’s locker, I made an offhand comment that the F-16 was getting ready for flight.

“There are some bad nicknames out there,” he told me. “Of all the nicknames to have, that’s a pretty cool one.”

I asked what he thought of his other nickname, Fehrsie.

“See, that’s the thing: I hate those nicknames,” he said. “Anybody with a last name with a –y on the end would probably be the worst one. Spelling it –ie doesn’t change anything. You need to be creative. As a group we’ve tried to be more creative with guys. We tried to change it up a little bit.”

Inadvertently, I had just stumbled on a massive scoop. Over the next 10 minutes, Fehr revealed the other hidden nicknames of the Capitals locker room. Some you might know– others you don’t.

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Photo: Kyle Mace/Chocolate Hockey

On Wednesday night Dmitry Orlov concluded his conditioning assignment in Hershey. The Russian defender has been out all season while rehabilitating the wrist injury he suffered in the World Championship last May.

In three games with Hershey, Orlov had three assists and six shots. He seems to have his heavy, booming slap shot back. Over the weekend, Orlov tallied two primary assists on the power play, just by rifling the puck on net.

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Photo: @kuzy092

On Monday, Evgeny Kuznetsov did a Russian language interview with Sport FM radio host Vladimir Dekhtyarev. Kuznetsov gabbed about his season to date and explained what it has been like playing under Barry Trotz.

“His plan was easy to understand,” Kuznetsov said, as translated by Fedor Fedin. “It was hard though to do all the little things that he demands, everything, even what side to place the stick on. Nothing escapes his attention. He watches very carefully and it was tough to change early on.”

The interview even features a cameo by Dmitry Orlov who started talking while in the car. Check it out.

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Photo: @capivan8

During Wednesday’s practice, the Capitals welcomed a fourth Russian onto the ice. Four-year-old Maxim Goloschapov was flown from Moscow to Kettler Capitals Iceplex because he won a promotional campaign held by Bauer Russia.

A few months ago, Bauer asked their followers to “show us your hardest shot by putting it on Instagram with the hashtag #MX3Russia. The winner gets to go to Washington to meet Alex Ovechkin.” Teeny tiny Maxim won with these two videos.

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Caps Russian Dmitry Orlov dropped some big news to CSN Washington’s Chuck Gormley after Tuesday’s practice.

The 23-year-old defenseman, who hasn’t played since breaking his wrist at the World Championship in May, says he could be ready to return in two weeks.

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