Changes in search of a spark were bound to happen after the Capitals fell flat in Toronto Saturday night, and the earliest one came when the team recalled highly-touted defensive prospect Dmitry Orlov from Hershey.
“We just thought we needed a little shakeup,” Coach Bruce Boudreau said. “Just somebody with a little more energy from the back end a little bit.”
Orlov recorded four goals and nine points in 15 games with the Bears and the 6-foot, 210 pound Russian continues to stand out at the AHL level. In Hershey’s 6-5 loss to Albany on Saturday night, Orlov, 20, recorded a goal and two assists.
“I talked to [Bears Coach] Mark [French] for a long time last night. He said [Orlov’s] by far the best defenseman he had there,” Boudreau said. “He’s still going to make mistakes, overanxious, but being able to make a play — especially if we’re losing — he’s out here and he’s creating, he’s doing a lot of good things.”
While there may still be a bit of a language barrier with Orlov, who has been taking English lessons, Boudreau said he isn’t worried because the young blueliner said he was comfortable given that the system is the same as Hershey’s.
Orlov should help inject speed that the Capitals haven’t had at their disposal on defense while Mike Green has been out of the lineup. He will likely also see time on the power play as Washington keeps trying to find ways to spark that unit back to life.
During Orlov’s standout showing during rookie camp and training camp in September, both the Capitals and Bears coaching staffs commented on his high-risk, high-reward style of play. While Orlov is bound to learn as he gains more experience – if he plays during this recall it will mark his NHL debut – the addition of energy may outweigh the learning curve.
“Right now we’re not scoring goals and the power play is zero for the century so you’ve got to do something. Hopefully he’ll bring some new life and it will get us going,” Dennis Wideman said. “We’ve all been in the league for a long time now and we’re all making mistakes, so what does it matter if he’s young? If he adds some offense, all the better.”
Orlov’s NHL salary is $900,000, and according to data available on CapGeek, Washington likely needed to make another move to fit the rookie’s salary on its roster.
That could be accomodated in many ways, including the option of placing Jay Beagle (concussion) or Green (strained right groin muscle) on the long term injury list. When asked if a player had been placed on LTI, the Capitals declined to comment through a team spokesman.