The Washington Times - February 26, 2013, 02:31PM

Dmitry Orlov has been cleared for contact, a “significant” step in his recovery process, Hershey Bears coach Mark French said, but the Washington Capitals defenseman likely won’t play in a game anytime soon.

Orlov suffered an upper-body injury that’s believed to be a concussion when the Bears played the Norfolk Admirals at Verizon Center Dec. 6. He began skating with Hershey teammates recently, but Tuesday was the first time he was able to skate without a no-contact jersey.


“I think it is a significant [step],” French said in a phone interview Tuesday afternoon. “Because of the duration that he’s been out, he’s been skating with us the last few weeks, but the fact that he’s been cleared to take contact now I think is a real good step. I think he was energized by that today and was real excited to be out there and have no restrictions on him. And hopefully we can progress and keep moving forward with him.”

French said he believed the plan was for Orlov to have two weeks of practicing with contact and then the team will evaluate him “almost on a daily basis.” The 21-year-old won’t be able to play this weekend for the Bears, French said, citing information from team trainer Dan “Beaker” Stuck.

“We’re hopeful maybe the following weekend,” French said.

It’s not certain if Orlov will make any kind of impact with the Caps this season, once he’s cleared to play in games.

“I think that’s way down the line,” Washington coach Adam Oates said. “He’s missed a lot of time. So I can’t say he’s been on my radar. Obviously he’s a prospect, played some games here last year, I had him in Hershey. He got hurt in Hershey, too. I really can’t say that I really evaluated him down there.”

Orlov played 60 regular-season games with the Caps last season, putting up three goals and 16 assists. He had one goal and eight assists in 18 games for Hershey before getting injured.

French said it’s up to him and assistant Troy Mann just to get Orlov back into game shape and into game action.

I’m sure once he’s healthy we’ll have a better idea of what the plan is,” French said.