By Alessandro Seren Rosso
When the Washington Capitals selected Russian defenseman Dmitri Orlov in the second round (55th overall) of the 2009 draft, they knew they landed a promising player with lots of upside.
But even though the 19-year-old Orlov rejected an offer from Patrick Roy to play major junior for the Quebec Remparts last season – opting instead to spend a second year in the Kontinental League with Metallurg Novokuznetsk – he never hid his interest in joining the rich-in-Russians environment in Washington.
“I’m going to cross the pond next year,” Orlov said in Russian.
Orlov, who believes his countrymen with the Capitals will help him adapt to the new language and culture when he does arrive, has skated in two Washington development camps, something he used to familiarize himself with the team.
“It was undoubtedly a great experience,” Orlov said. “I’ve skated there twice already and I liked everything. It was very good and all went very well.”
With three pro seasons in Russia under his belt and a number of international tournaments played – including a World Junior Championship and two under-18s – Orlov decided he needed one more year of seasoning in Russia before coming over. When he does, the Capitals will add another good puckmoving defenseman with a great shot from the point to complement Mike Green and John Carlson.
“I’m an offensive defenseman,” Orlov said. “But even if I like joining the rush, shooting and jumping into opportunities, I surely don’t forget about the defense.”
At 6-foot and 196 pounds, Orlov said he never had a childhood hockey idol, but tried to emulate a few players he watched. Last year, Orlov declared his favorite players to be Bobby Orr and Kirill Koltsov, a Vancouver Canucks second-rounder from 2002 who never cracked the NHL.
But for now, Orlov is a regular with Metallurg Novokuznetsk and he wants to help as much as possible during the 2010-11 campaign. Last season, the struggling Novokuznetsk side had the worst record in the KHL, gaining only 52 points in 56 games.
“I want to help my team in getting to the playoffs this season,” Orlov stated with confidence. “I also want to further improve as a player and do well on the international stage, too.”
He’ll get a chance to do just that when he’s back in North America leading the Russian squad at the 2011 world juniors this winter in Buffalo.
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