As the 2011-12 season has come to a close, the time has come to evaluate what it meant for the Capitals, both as a team and as individuals. As such, as the summer progresses, I will be writing a report card, or individual evaluation, for each player who played in 9 (~10%) of the team's games, or 4 playoff games. Next up is defenseman Dmitry Orlov, who finished his second season in the Washington organization on this past campaign.
Season Summary: After beginning the year in Hershey, Orlov was recalled in late November to try and jump-start a stagnant Washington defensive corps. He responded well, recording four points in his first nine games and making opposing players respect his huge shot. Orlov was rather consistent with his offensive production, but hit a wall in the middle of the season before finishing very strong with 7 points in his final 14 games. He was benched in mid-March for a defensive gaffe in Chicago, but returned in late March and finished the year in skates. All told, the young Russian played in 60 games with 3 goals, 16 assists, a plus-one rating, and 18 penalty minutes. His corsi rating of -0.39 was the third-best among all Washington defensemen, but he did it against the weakest competition on the Capitals' roster and some of the weakest competition across the entire NHL for defensemen who suited up in more than 40 games. Grade: B
Role Play: As I mentioned above, Orlov was brought to Washington to be an offensive sparkplug, and he did that just fine, showing why he has been one of the Caps' most highly-touted prospects since he was drafted. He has his low points, like being torched by Viktor Stalberg in Chicago and losing coverage occasionally, but that's to be expected from someone who, as of this writing, cannot drink the United States (legally, at least). No one expected Orlov to be a stud this year, and 19 points, a plus rating, and limited mistakes are not something to gripe about for a prospect in his first NHL season. Grade: B+
Playoffs: Despite finishing the year in the lineup and being better than John Erskine and Jeff Schultz, especially after their disastrous postseasons, Dima remained in the press box all playoffs. I was severely disappointed that Orlov did not see a single minute of playoff ice time. Grade: N/A
Future Potential: Orlov, who has two years remaining on his entry-level contract at a cap hit of $900,00 per season, is a young, dynamic defenseman who has few holes in his offensive game but still needs to work on his defense a little bit. He is, without question, a blue-chip player who the Capitals can build around or, if they were to chose, dangle as trade bait, though this is far less likely. Orlov is very good, and this year was just a taste of what he will be able to show people at the NHL level. His talent level is very high and his work ethic has been lauded as well. Grade: A
The next report card will feature forward Matt Hendricks.
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