Where will Orlov play?

orlov2eDmitry Orlov (!)
(Caps In Pictures)

Look at any blog, and you’d probably find Caps fans’ lists of who they were excited to see at development camp. The kid who topped those lists was usually John Carlson, the highly touted blueliner who started out with the London Knights of the OHL and quickly moved on to Washington’s AHL affiliate Hershey for their playoff run to a tenth Calder Cup.

That was expected.

What may not have been so expected was a pretty good deal of eagerness to see this year’s second round draft pick, 17 year-old blueliner Dmitry Orlov. The 5’11, 202 pound Russian had been said to be a steal for the Capitals. He was the ninth ranked European skater according to the Central Scouting Rankings and had overall good reviews. He was even invited to play in the QMJHL’s Quebec Remparts last season, where he would have played with fellow countryman and Caps prospect Dmitry Kugryshev, but ultimately turned it down. Some scouts thought the “Russian Factor” may have been why the Caps were able to pick up Orlov at 55. Once he was chosen, you could sense that there may be a little excitement for yet another Russian to join Alex Ovechkin, Alexander Semin, Semyon Varlamov, Dmitry Kugryshev, and Viktor Dovgan (Am I missing anyone?). Just maybe not as much as there actually was.

After the draft, Orlov seemed quite happy to be chosen by a team with so many Russians, most of whom are quite big names back home. When asked by a Soviet Sport correspondant on his future plans and if he was going to play another season with Novokuznetsk, he said that he was ready to play for Hershey: “…I want to play in the NHL. To achieve that, I’m ready to play for their farm team in Hershey.” That can be interpreted in a couple of ways. One could imply that, whenever he comes to North America, he would play for Hershey if no spot was available or if he was not yet ready to play up with the Caps. I, however, implied that that meant he would like to play for the Bears this coming season so he’d be one step closer to his NHL dream.

It seems as though, at development camp’s end, reviews indicate that it may not be a far reach for him:

  • “I was immediately impressed with Dmitri Orlov, as his crisp playing style was only accented by his vision and great shooting and passing. Not afraid to hit either.” –Rock The Red.net
  • “He is very aggressive in joining the rush but is reliable defensively as well. He is certainly one to keep an eye on; he could make a good impression in the NHL camp this September.” –Inside Hockey
  • “…Two members of local hockey media approached me with the same message: ‘Just focus on Orlov.’ So I did. And wow, just like these friends in media, I have liked what I’ve seen. Man-crush liked.” –On Frozen Blog’s pucksandboots (You should really read the whole post over at OFB)
  • “Dmitri Orlov was the surprise player of the camp for me. Clearly skilled, his willingness to play the body was even better. Good speed, good vision, good hands, and only 17 years old. He’s a player I could see making Hershey.” –OFB’s Mark Rucki
  •  “Orlov was adept at keeping the puck in at the blueline on the power play and was solid all over the ice. His passes were sharp and he showed a willingness to use his body.” –Mike Vogel
  • “Another good defenseman was Dmitri Orlov who had some dynamite hits and handled himself well with the puck. He has the potential to go further and it would be interesting to see him with bigger faster players.” –Puckhead’s Thoughts
  • “Well I think Orlov’s really making an impression. [He] does a lot of things well  for a guy that doesn’t know the language. He’s got pure skill and he plays a tough game too.” –Bruce Boudreau (via The Capital Letter)

You could find plenty of opinions on him over at Japers’ Rink in the form of stories, FanPosts, and comments. Sifting through the comments is a probably best. Checking out the various blogs posted above would probably give you some more thoughts on Orlov.

After reading everything, you can get a feel that there are quite a lot of people who think Orlov will be in Hershey, or want him there, this season. However, there are a few things that make the situation of where he’s playing a little murky.

Before the draft and the combine, Orlov indicated that he would stay in Russia for the upcoming season. He said, “I want to crack Metallurg’s lineup in the KHL and to be part of the national junior team.” But after being drafted by the NHL team that had the largest Russian contingent last season, his thoughts had changed, as previously stated. On Tuesday, Dmitry Chesnokov from Puck Daddy Tweeted this:

t

And if you’re curious, here is the poorly Google translated SovSport article.

Then, I replied to him, and this is how the Twitter “conversation” went:

tw

The kid that some thought could be slated to be in the lineup in Hershey might not even be at rookie camp this September. The American Hockey League has been called the “second best league in the world” by the likes of GMGM, Bruce Boudreau, and John Carlson. However, from past articles I’ve read of the Russians already on the Caps, it seems as thought they beg to differ. Varlamov said, “It is obvious that the level of the Russian league is higher than the AHL,” when asked to describe the differences between the AHL and the KHL. Could this be the reason for Orlov returning to Metallurg Nk? Or could it be the Russian team trying to keep him from coming over?

Looks like we’ll have to wait for September to roll around to answer the question: Where will Orlov play next season?

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