Dmitry Orlov has spent the most of the 2013-14 season shuttling back-and-forth between the Washington Capitals and the Hershey Bears, the team's AHL affiliate.
In Hershey, the former second-round draft pick has been a productive player, averaging nearly a point per game as a defenseman and demonstrating that he's perhaps ready for a regular shot. But when he actually gets to Washington on one of his many call-ups, he's a regular in the Verizon Center press box, sitting as a healthy scratch.
This has happened five times over the past month, including this week when the Capitals sent him back to Hershey just one day after he was called up. He did not play in a game. In fact, he's yet to appear in a game for Washington this season despite spending 19 days on its active roster.
On Tuesday evening Katie Carrera of the Washington Post managed to get to the bottom of the Capitals' madness. It's all about his contract and preventing him from leaving for the KHL:
The routine indicates the Capitals aren’t inclined to play Orlov, 22, but rather are simply trying to hang on to his rights.
According to a league source with knowledge of the situation, Orlov’s contract contains a clause that would allow him to leave for Russia’s Kontinental Hockey League on Jan. 1, 2014 if he has not been on the active NHL roster for a total of 30 days this season. Based on the various stints he has had with the Capitals, Orlov has spent 19 days on the active roster so far.
What's really strange about the entire situation is that Orlov, who is currently in the final year of his entry-level contract, might actually be able to help the Capitals. He's appeared in 65 NHL games over the past two seasons and has held his own before having some concussion issues during last year's lockout. He's scored three goals to go with 17 assists (mostly during the 2011-12 season) while also posting decent possession numbers relative to the rest of his teammates, the type of skill Washington could probably use this season.
The Capitals are surrendering 34.6 shots on goal per game (26th in the NHL) and have had some problems getting the puck out of their own zone.
On Tuesday, Orlov's agent, Mark Gandler, suggested that if the Capitals aren't willing to use his client they might be able to get something for him in a trade.
"It’s becoming increasingly hard for Dmitry to continue with this shuttle without any hope of playing a game," Gandler told Carrera. "The coach can’t see him in the lineup. He’s been around. Everybody knows what he can bring, there’s no question marks here. I think that the team can get something for him at this point and move forward. I think that would be the best solution for everybody."
This came just a couple of days after forward Martin Erat admitted that he has asked the Capitals for a trade because of his role with the team.