After a disappointing end to the season for the Washington Capitals, they luckily have something happy to be about. Defensemen Dmitry Orlov took a step in the right direction. The Russian put up the numbers along with the analytics to back it up. You can make the argument that he may be overpaid but he leads this veteran Washington team as a top-pairing defenseman beside John Carlson. Orlov has two years left on his six-year 5.1 million AAV contract, he’ll then become an unrestricted free agent (UFA). On a hot start to the 2021-22 season, Orlov will continue improving on this never down or out Capitals team.
Dmitry Orlov Leads Capitals Top Pair
Style of Play
The past season Orlov bought into the style of play assistant coach Kevin Mccarthy implemented. Orlov improved his transitions game to be in the 96th percentile of the entire NHL. This was a factor in the Capitals being one of the better defensive teams. The one flaw we saw in Orlov’s game was his ability to contain possession on five-on-five zone exits. He had just over six failed exits per 60 minutes. On the other hand, being the elite offensive player he is, Orlov led Capitals defensemen in successful five-on-five zone entries. Successful zone entries are key to creating offense and setting up proper systems.
There’s not much bad you can say about the former KHL’er. He took a big step the past season in regards to his value on the consistently contending Washington Capitals team. Playing on a line with Nick Jensen this season, he and Orlov have been the top duo in the nation’s capital.
2020-21 was the best analytical season of Orlov’s career, and we saw him take immense steps in his ability to drive play and offensive games. Spending most of his time on the blue line with Justin Schultz, every line Orlov was on saw excellent offensive numbers. Not a single combo featuring the Russian saw a goals for percentage (GF%) of under 55%. Orlov’s contribution to the Capitals was clear. He finished the season with a goals above replacement level (GAR) of 3.5 and 0.6 wins above replacement (WAR).
Off to a hot start, this season Orlov has been great on both sides of the puck. Offensively he’s creating chances that match up with his 2.26 expected goals per game. On the defensive side, he’s even better with only 1.81 expected goals against when on the ice. As a defensemen, it’s surprising that Orlov also creates the number of high danger chances he does but I’m sure no ones complaining.
When the opportunity comes, you can likely expect to see Dmitry Orlov on the roster of the Russian Olympic team. One note on this season is that Orlov has an elite shot while Washington’s primary generation comes from the point. So giving Orlov more ice time on the power play may make him an even more dynamic defenseman. As Orlov’s contract comes to an end in the 2022-23 season, it’s highly likely the Capitals management will look to resign the defensemen to a shorter-term deal. This season he’ll continue to play big minutes for Washington as they once again, continue the playoff push as they do every year.
Stats creds to Evolving Hockey, Jfresh, TopDownHockey, and Hockey Viz
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