Photos by Chris Gordon
When Metallurg Novokuznetsk’s season ended in early February without a playoff berth, Dmitry Orlov had two options. He could finish the year in Russia again with Metallurg’s MHL affiliate, the Novokuznetsk Bears, or begin his professional career in North America. After dominating the KHL’s junior circuit and winning the Davydov trophy as the MHL Playoff MVP in 2009-10, Dima needed a new challenge. So he negotiated an agreement with his KHL club and flew over to America to sign a contract with the Washington Capitals.
On February 27th, Orlov impressed fans and media alike in his AHL debut against the Albany Devils. Not only did he register a point in his first game as a Hershey Bear, he inspired The Patriot-News’s Tim Leone to exclaim,”That’s the best first 20 minutes from a 19-year-old D I’ve ever seen in this league.” Orlov went on to score his first AHL goal — ten days later — on March 9th against the Worchester Sharks and finished the year with nine points in 19 games.
After taking a brief vacation in Turkey, the defensive prospect is back in America, and participating in his third Development Camp. So far, the reports are positive.
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.
On September 16th, Dmitri Orlov was awarded the Vitaly Davydov Trophy for being the MVP of last year’s MHL Playoffs. As we detailed last spring, Dima had 19 points in 17 games (10G, 9A) and lead all MHL defenseman in scoring. He even won the award despite the Novokuznetsk Bears losing in the Kharlamov Cup Finals. In a special ceremony before the Bears Home opener against the Auto Ekaterinburg, Orlov was presented the trophy in front of the team’s fans.
We here at RMNB would get all analytical and compare Orlov to the previous award-winners to find the relevance in all of this, but last year was the MHL’s first year of existence. So there goes that. But how about the trophy? Well The Davydov is unique because unlike other cups, it’s made using a special style of ceramics called Gzhel. Gzhel is a traditional style of pottery and is very popular with tourists in Moscow.
Anyways, the MHL’s official web site posted an interview with the future Cap after the trophy presentation and RMNB has it translated for you below.
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.
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:
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.
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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