Over the offseason, tension overseas and the ongoing war in Ukraine have led to some questions for Russian NHL players, especially after Ivan Fedotov’s detainment and deployment along with allegations surrounding Minnesota Wild star Kirill Kaprizov. However, Washington Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan said that the team believes Alex Ovechkin and Dmitry Orlov will not face trouble returning to North America for the 2022-23 season.
Both Ovechkin and Orlov went back home to Russia this offseason. Not only have they spent time with family — while Ovechkin also played in a pro soccer game — but the two also hit the ice, having played with Alex Semin in their former teammate’s “farewell to hockey” game. Ovechkin hails from Moscow, while Orlov grew up in Novokuznetsk.
“I haven’t heard anything,” MacLellan said with regard to potential trouble leaving Russia. “As far as I know, there’s no concern about them getting back to North America.”
Per Russian law, men ages 18-27 must serve at least one year in the military. Ovechkin is turning 37 in September, and Orlov turns 31 on Saturday, so that does not apply to them.
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Meanwhile, Evgeny Kuznetsov is in D.C. and appeared at Capital One Arena to check in on the team’s prospects, along with Alex Alexeyev and 2022 first-rounder Ivan Miroshnichenko.
Ovechkin is entering his 18th NHL season and is coming off one of the best years of his career yet. At age 36, he dished 50 goals and 40 assists for 90 points in 79 games. The Capitals captain finished 10th in Hart Trophy voting in 2021-22. He also passed Jaromir Jagr this past season as the highest-scoring European of all time. In the big picture, Ovechkin is 20 goals away from 800, 22 away from passing Gordie Howe and 195 away from breaking Wayne Gretzky’s all-time goals record.
Orlov is also coming off a standout season. The 5-11, 214-pound blueliner dished a career-high 12 goals and 23 assists for 35 points in 76 games. He also continues to remain a key part of the blue line and play a shutdown game. But, as he continues to grow, he is embracing a puck-moving identity to boot.