Capitals defenseman Dmitry Orlov, injured early into Russia’s gold-medal run during the IIHF World Championships last month, is facing a recovery process that could extend into the beginning of October, a team spokesman said Wednesday.
Though the injury was initially cited as a broken left arm, Orlov underwent surgery on May 22 to repair a broken left wrist. He was put into a cast and sling shortly thereafter, with plans to have the cast removed stateside on July 9. Orlov’s flight back to the United States from his native Russia is booked for July 8.
The operation was performed in New York City by Dr. Charles Melone, a renowned hand specialist who, according to a 1998 Daily News article, “counts Don Mattingly, Gary Sheffield, Tommy John, Bobby Bonilla, Dikembe Mutombo and now [Jayson] Williams and [Patrick] Ewing among his pro patients.” (A message was left with Melone’s office seeking general comment about timetables for wrist rehabilitation, and this post will be updated if a response comes.)
The rehab process, according to the spokesman, will last around four months, estimated by Melone based on Orlov’s improved range of motion following surgery; wrist surgeries of this nature typically carry a healing timetable between four to six months. Orlov suffered the injury on May 12 during a preliminary-round game against the United States and was quickly flown stateside from Belarus to be evaluated. He went under the knife less than two weeks later and “most likely will be completely cleared at some point in September or October.”
The date of Orlov’s full return will partially hinge on when he can begin absorbing contact on the repaired wrist. His physical activity has been shut down while in the cast, but once doctors remove that next month, he can resume full workouts except for lifting weights with his left arm. That includes physical therapy, running, biking and eventually skating.
The expectation is that Orlov, who averaged 19:35 minutes of ice time over 54 games for the Capitals last season with a Corsi-for that ranked second on the team, will be ready by early October, with hope lingering that he could appear in some exhibition games at September’s end. The exact schedule is expected to be released sometime later this month. Last year, the Capitals opened on Oct. 1 after seven preseason games from Sept. 14-28.
But everything depends on how Orlov’s wrist tolerates contact; after he reaches that benchmark, Orlov might need as many as two more weeks of practice before appearing in games.
As for now, while he waits to come back to the United States, Orlov recently spoke to some youth table tennis players in Novokuznetsk, his Russian hometown. (Massive h/t to Japers Rink for finding the accompanying video and article.) He was still sporting a sling with a cast tight around the wrist and fingers.