Yesterday morning the Hershey Bears practiced at their grand old barn, Hersheypark Arena. I drove up for the practice with Ben Raby of Comcast Sportsnet and WTOP radio. Raby had never been inside HPA before, and he had the same reaction everyone else does on a first visit: love at first sight. Ben also helped me shoot some video of Russian Bears Dmitry Kugryshev and new arrival Dmitri Orlov, who this past Wednesday signed a three-year entry-level contract with the Capitals. Raby has been closely following Orlov’s rapid ascension as a prospect this season.
Orlov, 19, collected two assists in his first two games with the Hershey Bears (AHL) this season after signing an amateur tryout contract with Hershey on February 20. Prior to his stint in Hershey, Orlov appeared in 45 games with the Novokuznetsk Metallurg (KHL) this season, registering 12 points (two goals, 10 assists) and 43 penalty minutes.
Orlov, a 5’11, 202-pound defenseman, was Washington’s second-round selection, 55th overall in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft. He helped lead Team Russia to a gold medal at the 2011 World Junior Championships in Buffalo, recording nine points (one goal, eight assists) in seven games and was named to the tournament All-Star team.
With Kugryshev’s help, we asked Orlov about the adjustment he’s confronting coming over to North America well into the hockey season. And he answered us directly about his thoughts on how the AHL stacks up against the KHL. Kugryshev played his junior hockey in Quebec, and so his transition to North America was perhaps a bit less formidable. The two young Russians are living together in Hershey, which helps, and are voracious consumers of the NHL Network. And we also asked Kugryshev to own up to a moment of conspicuous bravado on Facebook in the immediate aftermath of the Russian World Junior team’s gold medal triumph over Canada back in January.