Washington Capitals Player Preview: Dmitry Orlov in 2021-2022

Dmitry Orlov, Washington Capitals (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Dmitry Orlov, Washington Capitals (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images) /

Dmitry Orlov is the only sure thing on the left side of the Washington Capitals‘ blue-line. Peter Laviolette and the Capitals’ coaching staff need Orlov to perform as well as he has in seasons past or the 2021-2022 iteration of the Washington Capitals’ defensive unit could have their wheels fall off before they even get on the road. Luckily, Orlov will have a career-year this season, after fully adjusting to Laviolette’s system and getting back to a sense of normalcy that the COVID-19 pandemic has robbed us all of, Dmitry Orlov will be the most valuable Capitals’ defender.

The 30-year-old Russian is set to anchor the team’s top paring alongside John Carlson. Behind him on the depth chart are a lot of question marks. The Capitals’ are hoping the rookie, Martin Fehervary can step up and play a big role this season and the team also hopes that Michal Kempny can play to the potential he showed during the team’s Stanley Cup run during the 2018 season. But after two major injuries: a torn hamstring and torn Achilles tendon, Kempny needs to show he still has the skillset needed to play at the world’s highest-level and on top of that, his durability over the course of a grueling 82-game season are in-question.

With uncertainty swirling on the left-side, Dmitry Orlov is the steadying force. Throughout his career, Orlov’s strength and durability have been unmatched. Since becoming a full-time starter in the 2015-2016 season, Orlov has played in every single game apart from five games last season that he missed due to an NHL-levied suspension for breaking the league’s COVID-19 protocols. Orlov and his Russian teammates gathered in the same hotel room and played video games during a road trip early in the season and were not masked.

Now that Dmitry Orlov is vaccinated, he will likely play in all 82 of the Capitals games again. Orlov has averaged at least 19:32 of ice-time per game since 2016-2017, setting a career-high of 23:08 in 2017-2018. This season, expect him to eclipse even that number. Orlov will get more time on the penalty kill than he did a season ago and will be heavily relied on in all high-stakes situations. If Justin Schultz struggles or continues to battle injuries, Orlov will likely slot in on the team’s second power-play unit as well. In Laviolette’s first season, Orlov thrived, putting up his best offensive year since 2017-2018. In only 51 games, Orlov scored 8 goals and added 14 assists with a plus-16 rating. Most of this production occurred from March to the beginning of May. Orlov struggled to adjust to the new system after missing a significant amount of time early in the season due to the aforementioned suspension.

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Peter Laviolette plays an up-tempo style that is centered around the defense getting involved in the offense. Dmitry Orlov’s offensive talent is far underestimated, last year Orlov saw his offensive zone starts shoot up to 58 percent, well above his career average of 51.7 percent. With Orlov on the ice, the Capitals controlled play, a Cosi For Percentage of 53 was in-line with what Orlov has shown over the past several seasons but one thing that really stood out was that Orlov registered nearly 5 shots per 60 minutes (4.9) which is his career-high and almost a full shot above the 4 shots per 60 minutes he averaged in 2017-2018 when he set a career-high with 10 goals. In 2021-2022, Dmitry Orlov could smash that career-high of 10 goals, realistically scoring 15 goals or maybe even more.