“I’m so happy to stay in Washington,” Orlov posted on his Twitter account. “Love our fans and team. Can’t wait for next year.”
Orlov’s signing leaves the Capitals with $12,456,560 in remaining salary cap space, according to CapFriendly.com, with potential restricted free agents forwards Evgeny Kuznetsov and Andre Burakovsky, plus goaltender Philipp Grubauer still to be signed. Because of that, the Capitals are likely to be quiet when free agency starts at 12 p.m. ET on Saturday, other than the expected re-signing of right wing Brett Connolly.
“I think the priority is on our existing guys [restricted free agents],” Capitals coach Barry Trotz said. “After that, that would probably be a [GM Brian MacLellan] question on how busy we will be. I know they’ve been upstairs working at stuff for the last week. … They’re working hard. They’ll have a good plan. When the dust settles, we’ll see what we’ve got.”
Orlov was a key part of the Capitals defense this season after playing on their top pair with Matt Niskanen. But getting him signed to a long-term contract was important for the Capitals with Karl Alzner and Kevin Shattenkirk expected to leave as unrestricted free agents and Nate Schmidt being claimed by the Vegas Golden Knights in the NHL Expansion Draft on June 21.
In 82 games this season Orlov set personal NHL bests with 33 points (six goals, 27 assists) and a plus-30 rating. His six goals were second among Capitals defensemen to John Carlson‘s nine, and his plus/minus was sixth-best in the NHL.
Orlov also had three assists and a minus-1 rating in 13 Stanley Cup Playoff games.
Selected by Washington in the second round (No. 55) of the 2009 NHL Draft, he has 93 points (20 goals, 73 assists) and a plus-43 rating in 283 NHL regular-season games.
Trotz said Orlov has taken big strides since not being able to play in the NHL in 2014-15 following wrist surgery.
“When I got here he was obviously coming off an injury season and he was basically not playing, he was an extra,” Trotz said. “His growth, we talked about a young player being patient, allowing him to grow, allowing him to make mistakes, allowing him to get to the next level, and with a good plan and his work ethic and him buying into it, he’s turned himself into a pretty good player, a good piece for us, and he’s getting paid for it.”