Washington's repeated playoff shortcomings have resulted in a club restructure losing the likes of Justin Williams, Karl Alzner, and Kevin Shattenkirk to free agency. A facelift has ensued for the upcoming Capitals squad, but for our purposes, we look to the loss of Alzner who signed with the Canadiens and where his minutes get filtered to. Two things stand out about one young rearguard for the Caps primed for a more prominent role this year, a new six-year contract and he’s coming into his age-26 season. Trending upward in point production every season since he entered the league, let’s dive into the numbers on the promising Dmitry Orlov.
Losing Alzner gives Orlov an immediate opportunity to show how much he’s grown as a player over the years. Management is banking he’ll take the next step with this $30 million contract and logic says it’s a savvy move locking him into a long-term deal. Already established as a 30-point defender on a potent offense, the needle is pointing towards 40-point territory this season if he can grasp the opportunity afforded to him.
This past season, Orlov had career highs in assists and points, as well as delivering the hits (1.5 per game) and blocked shots (1.1 per game) making him a well rounded asset. His power-play role was limited, although seeing his time deployed in said scenario more than double from 2015-16 is great for the future. Orlov’s defensive game is phenomenal with a plus-29 rating last season, and the durability is apparent with just one missed game over the past two years. Orlov’s PDO and Corsi For percentage speak volumes to his defensive acumen, and although his offensive zone starts went down by over 10 percent last year, he still maintained the pace of 2015-16 when he was deployed in the offensive zone 63.1 percent of the time. When you see a player trending in the right direction like this over the course of years, and a scenario arises where a void needs to be filled, a savvy fantasy owner takes action before others catch on. Orlov is ready for 40-point territory, as he possesses the skill, the intelligence, and a howitzer of a slap shot to make it happen. He is going to be looked to first and foremost to fill Alzner’s void as the Capitals defensive corps will see some rookie influx into the mix. As successful as he has been in a limited role, his increased opportunities may potentially lead to career-best offensive numbers. Orlov is shaping up to be a draft-day steal for any owner wise enough to realize the worth he stands to bring to the table now.
With Shattenkirk departing for the Rangers, John Carlson will find himself back at the helm of the top power-play unit. Orlov will more than likely man the point on the second unit with Matt Niskanen, so hope Orlov continues increasing those shot stats, as has been the case each successive campaign. As stated, Orlov has quite the slap shot and his confidence in his offensive abilities is rising as apparent in hitting triple-digit shots for the first time last season. He’s unlikely to light it up in man advantage scoring, but he can arguably attain double digits if he is deployed even just a bit more on the power play. There is no denying Orlov will be counted on for defensive minutes to fill Alzner’s void, but his game is different from his former teammate. Orlov's two-way style in Washington’s system is no issue in fact welcomed and Alexander Ovechkin showing up early for camp at lighter weight signals the commitment to speed this year. This is a team that can score with or without those lost this offseason. Orlov stands to play a prominent role do take notice in drafts.
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