2021-22 Team: Sakhalinskiye Akuly (MHL)
Date of Birth: Dec. 21, 2003
Place of Birth: Elektrostal, Russia
Height: 6-foot-2, Weight: 181 pounds
NHL Draft Eligibility: First-Year Eligible
- FCHockey: 93rd
- McKeen’s Hockey: 80th
- NHL Central Scouting (EU Skaters): 36th
- The Hockey Writers (Baracchini): 109th
Daniil Orlov is a Russian defender with above-average defensive instincts who uses his size well to shut down opposing players. His shot is nothing to write home about, but his skating is quite impressive, especially for a player of his size.
He is excellent at tracking opposing forwards through the neutral zone to best position himself defensively. He is also quite adept at knocking opponents off the puck in these situations, which often leads to some great breakout passing opportunities. His excellent skating helps him stick with any opponent even one with high-end puck skills.
One gripe I have with his game is that he tends to play “hot potato” a bit when he receives the puck. It’s rare to see him hold onto the puck for very long at a time, and he can seem a bit rushed, making a quick decision in favour of making the better decision. Whichever team drafts Orlov will need to put some focused effort into building his confidence with the puck, while simultaneously pairing him with a talented puck-moving defender.
Skating is Orlov’s most obvious skill and he has learned how to use it very effectively on defense. If he learns how to increase his panic threshold and begins to use his skating as an offensive tool, then he could be on the verge of taking his game to a whole new level.
Related: 2022 NHL Draft Guide
Orlov can still be depended on to produce offense as he was tied for 11th in league scoring by a defenceman this season with 30 points in 54 games. He took some good steps in his second MHL season and became one of the most important defenders on his team. If he can maintain his recent trajectory, I would expect to see him push his way out of the MHL (Russian junior league) and into one of the top-two professional leagues in Russia (VHL and KHL).
Other THW Draft Profiles
Daniil Orlov – NHL Draft Projection
I anticipate that Orlov will be drafted toward the end of the third round of this year’s draft, somewhere in the 90-100 range. If an NHL team thinks that Orlov is capable of growing into his offensive game then I wouldn’t be surprised to see him selected significantly earlier in the third, around the 75th spot. At this point it is hard to tell how Russian players will be viewed in this draft by NHL general managers. Will they all drop down the draft board in July or be selected at the spots they deserve? Only time will tell.
“The standout aspect of Orlov’s game is his smooth skating stride, as he has excellent skating posture that allows him to move in all four directions with ease.” – Brandon Holmes, FCHockey
- Excellent skating
- Shutting down zone entries
- Using his size to win puck battles
- Breakout passing
Under Construction (Improvements to Make)
- Improve shot
- Build confidence with the puck (stop playing hot potato)
If Orlov can learn to keep a cool head while in possession of the puck, he has the potential to be a minute-munching, top-four defender in the NHL. He will likely never score 30-plus points in the NHL, but his frame, skating and defensive instincts are all at a high enough level that I believe he could make a sizeable impact for an NHL team. The dream comparison for Orlov would be Artem Zub of the Ottawa Senators, a defender who is excellent defensively and can regularly chip in on offense with 15-20 points.
Risk – 3.5/5, Reward 3/5
Fantasy Hockey Potential
Offense – 4.5/10, Defense – 8.0/10
Daniil Orlov Statistics
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Logan is the director of prospect coverage (including the World Junior Championship and NHL Draft) for The Hockey Writers, and he’s also a part of the Detroit Red Wings writing team. He loves reading about statistics and advanced analytics, and discovering how they can enrich his hockey analysis and writing.