CSKA Moscow warned that they’d be after some of their Russian stars, attempting to woo them back with dreams of the 2018 Olympics and a chance to compete for their country. It seems they’ve found two targets, as Igor Eronko of Sport-Express reports the KHL club is in contact with Washington Capitals defender Dmitry Orlov, and Philadelphia Flyers forward Roman Lyubimov. Both players are restricted free agents and could leave for their home country should they want to.
News from Russian clubs should be taken with a grain of salt, but this smoke may have a fire attached to it especially in the case of Lyubimov. In April, he side-stepped a question about going home to Russia for a chance to compete in the Olympics, saying it would be a “tough decision”. The Flyers forward did only come over to the NHL this season, and saw less than 10 minutes of ice-time a night in his 47 games. While he wouldn’t be a devastating loss for the Flyers, Orlov’s departure would send shocks through the Capitals system.
Unlike Lyubimov, Orlov has been in North America for several seasons, coming up through the AHL system and only making his presence really felt the past two seasons. The 25-year old puck-mover has turned into an excellent player, able to play almost 20 minutes a night and record 30 points a season. Losing him in the same season as Karl Alzner and the newly acquired Kevin Shattenkirk would hurt the Capitals’ defensive group quite a bit. Orlov also never played for Moscow, and in fact his hometown and former KHL team Novokuznetsk has just been exiled from the league in an attempt to get it more financially stable.
Orlov is in line for a hefty raise should he stay in North America this summer, one that it will actually be quite difficult for the Capitals to afford. With Evgeny Kuznetsov, Andre Burakovsky, Brett Connolly, Nate Schmidt and Philipp Grubauer all hitting restricted free agency as well, the team will have to carefully carve up the cap-space pie to fit them all in. That’s assuming they don’t try to re-sign Alzner, Shattenkirk, T.J. Oshie, or Justin Williams, all of whom are unrestricted free agents this summer.