After being drafted in the 2nd round, Slava Voynov spent years developing in Manchester before breaking out and seizing top 4 minutes this past two seasons. I wanted to to do a quick and dirty comparison between Voynov and Orlov to see where each player was in their development at a particular age. Voynov was drafted a year before Orlov, but is nearly 18 months older. Voynov's ELC slid twice, while Orlov was used for 60 games in the first year of his ELC under Dale Hunter, and then had a lost season last year due to his concussions.
|Slava Voynov||1/15/1990||Dmitry Orlov||7/23/1991|
|2006-2007||31gm KHL, U18, U20||16y9m-17y3m||2007-2008||6gm KHL, U17, U18||16y2m-16y8m|
|2007-2008||36gm KHL, U18, U20||17y9m-18y3m||2008-2009||16gm KHL, U18||17y2m-17y8m|
|2008-2009||61gm AHL, U20||18y9m-19y3m||2009-2010||41gm KHL, U20||18y2m-18y8m|
|2009-2010||79gm AHL||19y9m-20y4m||2010-2011||45gm KHL, U20, 19 AHL||19y2m-19y9m|
|2010-2011||76gm AHL||20y9m-21y3m||2011-2012||15gm AHL, 60gm NHL||20y2m-20y10m|
|2011-2012||15gm AHL, 54 NHL||21y9m-22y5m||2012-2013||31gm AHL, 5gm NHL||21y2m-21y10m|
|2012-2013||35gm AHL, 48 NHL||22y9m-23y5m|
As you can see, Orlov was 7 months younger than Voynov when he was drafted. Voynov came immediately over to the AHL and put up 23 points in 61 games, as well as 4 points in his 3rd trip to the World Juniors. Weirdly, Voynov played 3 WJCs and Orlov 2, and despite only 17 months and 1 draft year separating them, they never played together. Voynov went to the WJC in 2006, 2007, and 2008, while Orlov competed in 2009 and 2010. Anyways, before Voynov was drafted he had played in 67 games over 2 years for Traktor as a 16 and 17 year old, turning 18 in the middle of the 2007-2008 season. In comparison, Orlov only played 22 games for Metallurg as a 16 and 17 year old. After Orlov was drafted, he spent 2 full years in the KHL before coming over to the AHL. With 7 points in 41 KHL games his first post-draft season, Orlov's 2009-2010 season was much like Voynov's draft year season, where he put up just 4 points in 36 games.
In Voynov's first post-draft year, spent in Manchester of the AHL, he was 18yr9mo for his debut, and was 19 when he came back from his final WJC. He scored 23 points in 61 games. Orlov played his first post-draft year (2009-2010) at 18 years of age. Orlov started his 2nd post-draft year in the KHL, and appeared in 19 games with Hershey of the AHL after his KHL season was over. So in comparison, Voynov's first post-draft year was 18yrs9mo-19yrs3mo, spent in the AHL scoring 23 points in 61 games. Orlov's 2nd post-draft year was played at 19yrs3mo to 19yrs-9mo, and he played 64 across the KHL and AHL, scoring 22 points.
Voynov's 2nd and 3rd post-draft years were both full seasons in the AHL, playing 79 and 76 games. He scored 29 points in the first year, and 51 in the second. Obviously, he played those years at the age of 19yrs9mo to 20yrs3mo, and 20yrs9mo-21yrs3mo. Voynov enjoyed very good health in his development, not missing any extended time in any of his first 3 post draft years. He finally cracked the NHL in his 4th post-draft season, 2011-2012, playing 54 games and scoring 20 points. In actual age, that would be 21 years and 9 months to 22 years 6 months, playing until the Kings won the Stanley Cup on June 11th. In contrast, Dmitry Orlov made his NHL debut in his 3rd post-draft season, playing 60 games and scoring 19 points. He played that year, 2011-2012, at 20yrs3mo to 20yrs9mo. In their rookie seasons, Voynov averaged 18:32 TOI compared to Orlov's 16:52, but that disparity is almost entirely power play driven. Voynov's 18:32 breaks down to 15:57 at even strength, 0:05 shorthanded, and 2:28 on the power play. Orlov's 16:52 was 15:34 at EV, 0:33 shorthanded, and 0:44 on the power play. When sorting by defenseman ATOI/gm on NHL.com, Voynov ended up 141st, and Orlov 179th.
Unfortunately, Dmitry Orlov's 4th post-draft year was a complete bust at the NHL level. Orlov was on the shelf for an extended period of time recovering from concussion symptoms, and he was unable to build on his first NHL season. Despite the lost year, Orlov is still not yet 22, his birthday being July 23rd. He'll play this season starting at 22yrs3mo. Because he spent his first two years in the KHL, and was injured this past year, over his four post-draft seasons, including just his club appearances and not any national team appearances, Orlov played 251 games, 86 KHL, 25 MHL, 75 AHL, 65 NHL. In contrast, in Voynov's first four seasons, he played in 321 games, 247 AHL and 74 NHL. He also added 101 games in his 5th season, 35 AHL, and 66 NHL. That continuity for Voynov, both in situation and in systems, probably boosted his development curve, as opposed to Orlov who has played in 4 different leagues and probably 4 different systems.
Voynov made the leap to legitimate top 4 defenseman in his 2nd NHL year. He played all 48 games, scoring 25 points and averaging 22:18 a game. That breaks down to 18:32 at even strength, 1:40 shorthanded, and 2:05 on the power play. He averaged the 2nd most TOI/gm on the Kings, behind Doughty, but that dropped to 3rd for the playoffs and after the acquisition of Robyn Regehr. Interestingly, the Kings last year before the regular season were much like the Capitals in that Daryl Sutter only had 3 defensemen he trusted for most of the regular season, in Rob Scuderi, Drew Doughty and Slava Voynov (2 right shots and a left shot). Sutter paired Scuderi with Voynov and left Doughty to carry his own pairing (mostly with Jake Muzzin). In contrast, Adam Oates paired Karl Alzner with Mike Green, and left John Carlson to carry John Erskine on the 2nd pairing. Looking at the 5v5 TOI on hockeyanalysis, Alzner actually spent more even strength time with Oleksy and Kundratek than he did with Carlson.
My hypothesis going into this comparison was that Dmitry Orlov compared favorably to Slava Voynov in terms of development, and in per game averages, he mostly does. Where he falls down is in counting stats, because Voynov played 3 straight seasons in the AHL while Orlov jumped from the KHL to the AHL to the NHL in 2 years. Orlov also suffers from a smaller sample size compared to Voynov.
Orlov is nominally behind Karl Alzner, John Erskine and Jack Hillen on the left shot defense depth chart, but he could win a job with a strong training camp. Ideally, he might start on the 3rd pair and help drive play versus weaker competition, then move up to the 2nd pair with John Carlson and serve as a good two-way pair, and if he proves himself capable of that, move up with Mike Green and get utilized as the offensive-minded pair, allowing Carlson and Alzner to take on the toughest competition. In this hypothetical, it is difficult to say if the pairings should be Carlson-Alzner/Green-Orlov or Carlson-Orlov/Green-Alzner. The first set lends itself much more to offense/defense, the thinking being that Carlson-Alzner should take most of the defensive zone draws, and Green-Orlov most of the offensive zone draws. However, with only 3 defense pairings, one might be better served going with the second set, and just rolling whichever pair is next up for all draws (with some specific situational tweaks, more than likely).
In conclusion, Dmitry Orlov never really got a shot to play regularly in the NHL last year because of injuries. People also spoke about him needing to "convert" to the left hand side on defense, despite him playing ~470 of his 900 5v5 minutes in the 2011-2012 season with either Dennis Wideman (314), John Carlson (90) or Mike Green (53). Tomas Kundratek made up the remainder. Certainly it was a different system, but spending over half his time on the left hand side doesn't signal a need to convert. He's still only 22, and the list of guys who broke in at 20 or younger post-lockout features some fairly notable names. One hopes that Dmitry Orlov's name will be written in pen in the Capitals defensive core for many years to come.