WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 25:  Dmitry Orlov #9 of the Washington Capitals celebrates with teammate Evgeny Kuznetsov #92 after scoring a goal in the second period against the Winnipeg Jets at Verizon Center on November 25, 2015 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
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It’s official: Capitals re-sign Orlov to one-year, $2.57M deal

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The wait is officially over.

The Washington Capitals announced Wednesday afternoon that they had re-signed restricted free agent defenseman Dmitry Orlov to a one-year deal worth $2.57 million, which backs up an earlier report from the Washington Post stating he would sign within the neighborhood of $2.6 million.

Orlov, 25, made $2.25 million last season, the final year of his previous two-year contract. He scored eight goals and 29 points in 82 regular season games in 2015-16.

Even before this contract was signed, the Capitals had bigger plans for Orlov heading into this season.

“I envision him playing with a [Matt] Niskanen or a [John] Carlson, probably more prime minutes as we try even out our defense a little bit in terms of [workload],” said Capitals head coach Barry Trotz in August.

“It’s a great opportunity for him. He’s at the right age where he can really contribute. We’ll look for his contributions on the power play, the penalty kill, playing in that top-4 on a pretty regular basis. I just think it’s right for him.”

Report: Orlov to sign one-year deal with Caps, could get top-four role this season

WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 25: Dmitry Orlov #9 of the Washington Capitals celebrates after scoring a goal in the second period against the Winnipeg Jets at Verizon Center on November 25, 2015 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
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The Washington Capitals are on the verge of signing defenseman Dmitry Orlov to a one-year contract worth “in the neighborhood of $2.6 million,” according to the Washington Post. 

Orlov, 25, is a restricted free agent. He made $2.25 million last season, when he scored a career high-29 points in 82 games.

“I would like to stay [in Washington],” he said recently. “But I don’t know how it’s going to happen. We’ll see.”

From the Post’s report:

The reason the contract talks have taken this long likely has more to do with Orlov wanting a more substantial role with the team than disagreements over salary or term. Orlov averaged about 16 minutes per game last season, mostly playing on the third defensive pairing. He didn’t kill penalties, and his power play time was limited.

Throughout the summer, the Capitals’ coaching staff and management has repeatedly spoken of giving more responsibility to Orlov, potentially pairing him with Matt Niskanen or John Carlson in a top-four role. That would involve playing more minutes with more challenging defensive assignments. Though he wouldn’t be getting much of a raise on a one-year deal worth about $2.6 million, the sales pitch could be that he’d have an opportunity for more production as a top defenseman and then sign a more profitable deal in a year, when Washington is expected to have more salary cap space because Justin Williams, Daniel Winnik, T.J. Oshie and Karl Alzner will be hitting unrestricted free agency.

If Orlov does indeed get a top-four role on the left side, it could mean less ice time for 35-year-old Brooks Orpik, who still has three years left on his contract, with a cap hit of $5.5 million. And if it’s not Orpik that plays less, it will have to be Alzner.

Orlov is currently playing for Russia at the World Cup.

Sweden shuts out rival Finland in King Henrik’s return

TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 20: Henrik Lundqvist #30 of Team Sweden makes a save while playing Team Finland in the second period during the World Cup of Hockey at the Air Canada Center on September 20, 2016 in Toronto, Canada.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
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The rivalry between Sweden and Finland was subdued at times when the two nations met Tuesday in the World Cup of Hockey.

There was the odd outburst here or there. But emotions were kept in check.

Speaking of being kept in check: Sweden held on to defeat Finland by a final score of 2-0, dealing a devastating blow to their neighbors’ hopes of a World Cup semifinal berth.

Through two round robin games, the Finns have been held to one goal. In their latest defeat, they ran into a healthier Henrik Lundqvist, who was sensational in a 36-save shutout effort after recovering from the flu.

Patrik Laine had five shots on goal for Finland, and couldn’t beat Lundqvist. Late in the game, with the goalie pulled, Laine whiffed on a one-timer attempt, as his stick busted apart.

Just one of those days for the talented forward.

More importantly, Finland is 0-2. Sweden moves to 2-0. Team North America and Team Russia are 1-1. All four teams each have one game remaining in their respective schedules before the next round begins.

Sweden didn’t need much scoring. Not this time, anyway.

The big goal came from defenseman Anton Stralman, as he pinched down from the blue line and eventually tapped in a perfect pass from Henrik Sedin after he and twin brother Daniel went to work with the puck, as they typically do, down below Finland’s goal line.

Sweden now faces Team North America on Wednesday with a chance to go a perfect 3-0 in the round robin. Finland plays Russia on Thursday.

If World Cup exhibition is an indication, Sedin twins and Eriksson could ignite Canucks power play

SOCHI, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 19:  Loui Eriksson #21 of Sweden celebrates his goal with Daniel Sedin #22 in the third period against Slovenia during the Men's Ice Hockey Quarterfinal Playoff on Day 12 of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics at Bolshoy Ice Dome on February 19, 2014 in Sochi, Russia.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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The Vancouver Canucks have yet to play a game of any kind this season.

But the trio of Henrik Sedin, Daniel Sedin and Loui Eriksson, who have played together at previous international events, should provide the Canucks with at least some excitement, especially for the power play, as training camp approaches.

The Canucks, in need of goal scoring and improvement to their power play, signed Eriksson to a six-year, $36 million contract on the first day of free agency. The plan, it’s expected, is for the left-shooting Eriksson to play on the top line with the Sedin twins.

(Mind you, Radim Vrbata was brought in as a free agent signing two years ago for the same reason, but he was eventually moved off that line.)

So far in the World Cup of Hockey pre-tournament games, the trio has been productive for Sweden, albeit in a small sample size as far as this competition goes.

Eriksson scored twice in Saturday’s game against Finland, as Sweden earned a 6-3 win over their neighboring rivals. Henrik Sedin assisted on both goals and Daniel Sedin had a helper as well. Both Eriksson goals came on the power play, including a five-on-three.

 

In both cases, Eriksson, who now has three goals in two pre-tournament games, was stationed in front of the net, and the Sedins — Henrik on the first goal and Daniel on the second — set him up.

“They are such smart players,” said Eriksson, as per NHL.com in July.

“It was easy for me when I first played with them to get chemistry because we kind of play the same way. We like to give the puck and get it back from each other. Maybe the first couple games was a learning process to see how they played and how they were thinking, and we seemed to match really well when we played together in those games, especially in the 2013 World Championships when we won it. … Hopefully we can keep playing like we did during that time and we should have some good success.”

The Sedin twins will turn 36 years old later this month. They have two more years remaining on their respective contracts. Eriksson, who has twice hit 30-plus goals in a single season, including last season in Boston, is 31 years old. They’re not getting any younger.

But the Canucks were dismal when it came to overall goal scoring (29th in the NHL) and power play (27th in the NHL). They also acquired and signed defenseman Philip Larsen with the idea of giving him the opportunity to run the power play from the back end.

So far, so good for the Sedin twins and Eriksson in the World Cup. If that can translate into the NHL regular season, the Canucks should at the very least improve their power play. The Canucks certainly need it.

Whether the Canucks, as an entire team, will be good enough to make it back to the playoffs is another story for another day.

Sean Monahan cashes in, signs 7-year contract with Flames

CALGARY, AB - MARCH 23: Sean Monahan #23 of the Calgary Flames skates against the Colorado Avalanche during an NHL game at Scotiabank Saddledome on March 23, 2015 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. The Flames defeated the Avalanche 3-2. (Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images)
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Even though the Calgary Flames 2015-16 season turned out to be a pretty big disappointment, they still have a really impressive core of young talent with Sean Monahan, Johnny Gaudreau, Sam Bennett, and Dougie Hamilton all in place, and all still age 23 or younger.

On Friday morning, they made sure to keep one of those players in place with a long-term contract extension.

The Flames announced that Monahan, a restricted free agent this summer, has signed a seven-year contract with the team.

The team did not release the financial terms of the deal but Elliotte Friedman reports it is similar to the long-term deal Nathan MacKinnon signed with the Colorado Avalanche earlier this summer and is somewhere in the  $6.3 million per year neighborhood.

Over the past two years Monahan, the No. 6 overall pick in 2013, has taken a huge step in his development and has become one of the most productive forwards in the league, recording at least 27 goals and 62 points in each of the past two seasons.

For a player that is just now entering his age 22 season that is pretty remarkable production, and is similar to what Filip Forsberg has done with the Nashville Predators over the same time period. And as we noted there when talking about Forsberg’s potential production for this season, players that produce at that level at that young of an age tend to go on to be superstar level players.

Whether or not Monahan does that remains to be seen, but he has had a fantastic start to his career and the Flames now have him locked in for the next seven years on a contract that could prove to be a great deal under the salary cap if he continues on his current path.

Now that Monahan’s deal is completed, the next move for the Flames is to get Gaudreau signed (likely to a similar deal) as he is also a restricted free agent at the moment.