- The Washington Times - Friday, June 30, 2017

The Washington Capitals re-signed defenseman Dmitry Orlov to a six-year, $30.6 million contract Friday, the team announced. 

Orlov was set to be a restricted free agent when free agency opens Saturday, but the deal locks up the 25-year-old through the 2022-23 season. Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan said last month he’d be open to signing Orlov to a long-term deal and delivered on his word. 

Orlov gives the Capitals a top defensive pairing alongside defenseman Matt Niskanen. Together, Orlov and Niskanen were the Capitals‘ best defenders in the playoffs, going against stars such as Auston Matthews and Sidney Crosby. 

Orlov had a career-high 33 points (six goals, 27 assists) last season and was sixth in the NHL in plus/minus as a +30, meaning when Orlov was on the ice the Capitals outscored their opponents by 30 goals. 

Orlov took a considerable step forward last year after being benched multiple times during the 2015-16 season. 

In May, Niskanen said Orlov was the Capitals‘ best defender on “many, many occasions and by a long shot sometimes” during the year.

“The kind of knock on him was well he’s a little risky, makes some mistakes, but I think people were a little short sighted in not seeing his potential, and I think you saw his potential come out this year,” Niskanen said. “He still had the guts to make plays and he has that ability where he can break the puck out on his own and he can make things happen in the offensive zone and beat people strong for his size, wins battles.” 

The extension leaves the Capitals with $12.45 million in cap room, according to Capfriendly.com. The Capitals will prioritize their remaining RFAs — Evgeny Kuznetsov, Andre Burakovsky and Philipp Grubauer — with that space. MacLellan also mentioned Kuznetsov as a candidate for a lengthy contract extension. 

The Capitals have 14 players tied to $62.5 million for next season. There are 23 players on an NHL roster and so the Capitals will have to be tight with their remaining cap room, especially if Kuznetsov gets a lucrative contract.

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