The New Jersey Devils have only five defensemen under contract for 2022-23, with Ryan Graves and Damon Severson expected to depart via free agency. Would it be smart to target Dmitry Orlov?
Dmitry Orlov recently enjoyed a prolific, abbreviated campaign with the Boston Bruins. The long-time Washington Capitals blueliner scored 17 points in 23 games in Beantown en route to establishing a new career-high in points this season with 36. Perhaps most important is Orlov’s playoff production, as he scored eight points in seven games in Boston’s first-round exit. To put the cherry on top, Orlov won the Stanley Cup with Washington in 2018.
A prospective addition of Orlov might not seem necessary with Kevin Bahl still in the fold as of now, but the current composition of the Devils’ defense complicates things. The Jonas Siegenthaler-Dougie Hamilton pairing has struggled to play well in tougher minutes, and that role was granted this season mostly to Ryan Graves and John Marino. With Luke Hughes more than likely jumping to the NHL full-time in 2023, slotting him next to the defense-first Marino makes too much sense.
On the other side of the defense, Simon Nemec has been earmarked to take over the Damon Severson-sized vacancy on the third pairing. As an adept puck mover and an aggressive skater off the rush, Nemec would mesh best with Jonas Siegenthaler. This leaves Dougie Hamilton without a partner, as Kevin Bahl profiles similarly to Siegenthaler and the departing Graves.
There is no better option in the current free agent landscape than Dmitry Orlov, who is just finishing up the six-year, $30.6 million ($5.1 million average-annual-value) contract he signed with Washington in 2017. At 31 years old, Orlov is staring at his last chance to get paid and likely his last chance to hand-pick the team he wants to join and compete for a Stanley Cup championship.
Although Orlov’s performances suggest he could still earn top money on the market, that should be no problem for the Devils. Even if they sign both Jesper Bratt and Timo Meier to lucrative extensions, they can add Orlov in free agency. If it suits both parties, the two sides could agree to a shorter-term deal, as the Devils have prospects Daniil Misyul, who recently signed his entry-level contract, and Topias Vilen getting ready to emerge from the pipeline.
If the 2023 Playoffs have shown us anything, it’s that strong performances from the back end propel teams to success. Signing Dmitry Orlov would be another step closer to achieving that success.