McPhee compares Orlov to Alzner, Carlson

McPhee compares Orlov to Alzner, Carlson
November 13, 2013, 6:15 pm
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11.13.13: Caps week in review

Capitals defenseman Dmitry Orlov has been a proverbial yo-yo this season, splitting his time between the AHL Hershey Bears and the Capitals.

In his first month of hockey this season, the 22-year-old Russian has played in just five games – all with the Bears, recording a team-high eight points on two goals and six assists.

On Wednesday, Orlov was sent back to the Bears for the third time this season so that he could play in Wednesday night’s game against the Charlotte Checkers.

With Orlov in the final year of his three-year entry level contract, Caps general manager George McPhee was asked his thoughts on the hard-hitting defenseman, who was taken by the Caps in the second round [55th overall] of the 2009 NHL draft.

“He’s played really well,” McPhee said. “He’s been our best player in Hershey. He’s been scoring. I feel the same way about him as I felt about [Karl] Alzner and [John] Carlson at one point.

“I’m looking forward to watching him play because I think he can step in and we don’t miss a beat. We feel Dmitry will get his chance and I like him a lot. He’s a good player.”

When Jack Hillen broke his leg in the second game of the season and John Erskine joined him on the injured list to rehab his surgically repaired knee, the Capitals’ depth on the left side of their blue line took a hit. The Caps clamed Alex Urbom off waivers and recalled Nate Schmidt from the Bears to fill the voids.

Capitals coach Adam Oates said Orlov would have gotten the call to replace Erskine, but was passed over because he had pink eye. Last week, Oates said he knows what Orlov can provide offensively, but wants to see him defend better before giving him his first shot in the NHL since the 2011-12 season.

“I guess the question is, who do you pull out right now, because they’re playing pretty good,” McPhee said. “[Orlov] is in a difficult spot but it doesn’t mean we don’t think he’s a terrific player and he’s going to be a good one.

“I don’t like to pull him back and forth. He deserves to be here, but if he’s not playing, the beauty is that Hershey’s close and we can get him in [games], keep him sharp and bring him right back.”

With Mike Green sidelined with a lower body injury, the Caps could be seeking a right-handed shot to replace him. McPhee said Tyson Strachan has played “really well” for the Bears, while rookie Connor Carrick has been “up and down” in his first year as a pro.