Nail Yakupov: Why Caps Fans Should Root for the Avs to Tank

Nail Yakupov

When George McPhee traded Semyon Varlamov to Colorado in early July, not only did he gain the roster flexibility to sign Vezina-hopeful Tomas Vokoun to a discounted one-year pact, he also netted two valuable assets from the Avalanche: a first-round pick in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft and a second-round selection in either 2012 or 2013.

In a year’s time, Colorado could seriously regret this deal. Why? With two injury-prone goalies in Varlamov and Jean-Sebastien Giguere, and an offense that has few proven scorers, the Avalanche could fall into the lottery or possibly even finish dead-last in the West. That would give the Capitals a chance to pick in the top five for the first time in five years (they nabbed Karl Alzner fifth overall in 2007). It also presents McPhee and company with a shot at bringing a new Russian superstar to DC. His name: Nail Yakupov.

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Dmitri Orlov

Dmitri Orlov poses with the Stanley Cup (Courtesy of the Russian Internets)

Dmitri Orlov poses with the Stanley Cup (Courtesy of the Russian Internets)

Washington Capitals Defensive prospect Dmitri Orlov was named today the Russian Junior Hockey League’s best defenseman in April, while Maxim Kitsyn (who is eligible for the ’10 draft) was named the best forward. Per the translated MHL release by Fedor Fedin:

The Novokuznetsk Bears surprised both analysts and fans alike when they made it the MHL Finals. In the “Golden” series, Sergei Krasilnikov’s team was defeated by the Steel Foxes of Magnotogorsk – 1:3. However, the games of the final round got the biggest hullabaloo in Novokuznetsk for a very long time: spectators filled the Sports Hall completely.

18-year-old defensemam Dmitri Orlov, was one of the main heroes of the first Kharlamov Cup. He was named the best defenseman of the MHL semifinals and Finals. Orlov played securely on defense and was a force on offense during the playoffs: he scored 9 goals and earned 10 assists. In the points race he finished second. He lost by only one point to his teammate, forward Maxim Kitsyn.

The acting mayor of Novokuznetsk ,Valery Smolego, congratulated the Junior team. He said that “hockey should continue to develop in our town.” Players and coaches got credentials and bonuses. And now the team is on break. The Bears will start preparations for the new season on the 1st of July.

H/T to Dmitry Chesnokov for first alerting us via Twitter.

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A Final Update On Caps Prospect Dmitri Orlov

Dmitri Orlov

RMNB’s Fedor Fedin has followed Dmitri Orlov everywhere this year (including Siberia and even a Moscow Bathroom). Now that the Novokuznetsk Bears’ season has finally come to an end, Fedor’s here to provide a final review of the season-that-was for Orlov which includes some interesting quotes, statistics, photos and videos. Take it away, comrade!

First of all, we wanted to point you to the summary of Orlov’s KHL Regular season by Championat.ru:

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Sergey-Bobrovsky-goalie

Will Philly's signing of Sergey Bobrovsky light a fire back into the Flyers/Caps Rivalry?

Will Philly's signing of Sergey Bobrovsky eventually light a fire back into the Caps/Flyers Rivalry?

For the three of you who follow Minor League Russian Hockey, you’re already aware that Caps Defensive Prospect Dmitri Orlov has led the Novokuznetsk Bears – the minor league affiliate of the KHL’s Metallurg Novokuznetsk – to this year’s MHL Finals. But what some of you may not know, is that the starting goaltender of the team, Sergey Bobrovsky, is Semyon Varlamov’s biggest rival in Russia. And sources in Novokuznetsk tell RMNB that Bobrovsky – now free of his Russian Contract – will sign a free agent deal with the Philadelphia Flyers and will play there next year.

Though it has largely flown under the radar in America, the impact of this deal could be huge. We consider it a coup for the Flyers and it could impact the Capitals/Flyers rivalry in the Eastern Conference for many years to come. Bobrovsky, at 21, has been Metallurg Novokuznetsk’s number one goalie for the past three years, and has managed to put up extremely strong numbers this season despite the fact he has been keeping for the KHL’s worst team.

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Dmitri Orlov: I Always Like To Go On Attack

Dmitri Orlov

Much like in the NHL, the KHL has farm teams. And since Metallurg Novokuznetsk failed to make the KHL Playoffs, the team decided to option their finest young defensive prospect, Caps 2009 2nd Round Draft Pick Dmitri Orlov, down to the MHL’s Novokuznetsk Bears. (Bears? Are you SERIOUS?!) And for those who are confused, the MHL is Russian for Molodyozhnaya Hockeynaya Liga or the Junior Hockey League. It’s exactly like the AHL, the only difference being that the MHL is for younger players only.

Anyways, lucky for us, Fedor translated an exclusive interview between Andrey Osadchenko and Dmitri Orlov. Below the jump, Dmitri talks about being the highest scoring MHL Defenseman for the month of February, what it was like to miss the playoffs, and why he picked the number 9.

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