Dmitry Orlov arrived in Washington a week before Capitals development camp began to work out, prepare and also reunite with some of his fellow prospects, such as Stanislav Galiev. It was an extra week that caught the attention of Coach Bruce Boudreau, who noticed the 19-year-old Russian’s dedication as he trained at KCI in the morning.
“He’s in a lot better shape and he’s lighter and in better condition than he was in the other camps,” Boudreau said after Orlov’s first official on-ice session on Monday. “I was here every day and he was here every morning, working out and going on the ice. So I think he wants to make a real good impression. He was always going back to Russia before, but now he knows he’s [in North America]. He wants to make the team.”
Orlov joined the Hershey Bears late in the 2010-11 regular season after his KHL team, Novokuznetsk Mettalurg, missed the postseason and recorded nine points in 19 regular-season AHL contests. He impressed the Bears staff and others who saw him adjust to the North American game in stride. Last March, Orlov signed a three-year, entry-level contract that begins with the 2011-12 campaign. It will mark his first full season playing in North America.
The defenseman has made it clear he is committed to playing in the NHL, and while he may not start the season in Washington, it’s not hard to imagine him being one of the prime options to recall should the Capitals need extra depth on the blueline. (As things stand now, even if Tom Poti is placed on long-term injury, the Capitals have six defensemen under NHL contract with restricted free agent Karl Alzner still to sign.)
“I’m going to do whatever’s required of me, and if they send me back [to Hershey], I’m going to go back and forth that’s fine. It’s part of this,” Orlov said through a translator. “I’m definitely going to try to get noticed on that end and get in the lineup.
“I feel more comfortable mentally now with the deal signed and I know I’m going to stay for sure for three years,” Orlov said. “Last year was a little bit strange, because I didn’t know whether I was going to stay or come back. Now I can just concentrate on doing my best and to try my hardest to make this step.”
Orlov made his presence known in his first session with Group B this week when he dished a heavy, open-ice shoulder check on free-agent invitee Garrett Ross, and his ability to stand out on the ice isn’t a question. Even though he understands English better and continues to try to learn, Orlov admits that the language barrier remains his most difficult obstacle.
Boudreau said he tries to monitor to see what Orlov understands, but said he didn’t notice any mistakes or the young defenseman looking lost in drills after the first day.
“If he understands,” Boudreau said, “We know he can play and he can shoot and he can stand up and hit and he’s got great hockey sense.”