Two Approaches to the Same Position
One aspect of sports that largely reflects life, and one reason many love to watch, is the amount of interpretation a player can take towards their position. No matter the sport or position, no two players will play the exact same way. This, in large part, is due to players knowing what their strengths are and tailoring their style to them. This is where the importance of the preseason is shown; as Brind’Amour looks to improve on last season, he will have to use players where they fit best. With the preseason progressing further, Brind’Amour now has a better idea of where his players will fit in. One of the most noticeable examples of being the same position but having a different approach comes from Dmitrii Orlov and Tony DeAngelo; a tale of two defensemen with the same position but with a different role to fill.
Their Journey to the Canes
Orlov had his NHL debut with the Washington Capitals in 2011, where he was eventually a part of their Stanley Cup victory later on in 2018. Through multiple trades, Orlov eventually found himself on the Bruins in the 2022-2023 season, being traded to the Bruins just before the postseason. He found a great deal of success in his short time there. During Orlov’s 23 game bout with the Bruins, he recorded 23 blocks, 49 hits, and 10 takeaways. Over the offseason, Orlov was picked up by the Hurricanes, with a two-year $31 million dollar contract.
DeAngelo’s story of how he got to the Hurricanes varies slightly, as this is not his first time being picked up by the Hurricanes. DeAngelo started his NHL career with the New York Rangers, where he saw a massive amount of success in his 5 years there. DeAngelo was traded to the Hurricanes during the offseason leading up to the 2021-2022 season, where through his explosive offensive plays and ability to force turnovers became a fan favorite. Despite DeAngelo’s popularity, he was traded to the Philadelphia Flyers . After one season with the Flyers, in a surprising off-season pickup, the Hurricanes signed DeAngelo for a second time, with a 1-year $1,675,000 contract.
In terms of their stature, both Orlov and DeAngelo stand at 5 ’11” and weigh anywhere from the upper 100s to the lower 200s. Orlov and DeAngelo have the ability to impose their will on the ice, with last season Orlov having 49 hits in 23 games with the Bruins, and DeAngelo last season having 52 hits over the course of 70 games with the Flyers. On top of their physicality and grit, both players are offensive-heavy defensemen with the ability to funnel the puck to big time scorers. Last season with the Bruins, Orlov had 13 assists in 23 games, with 8 of them coming in the playoff series against the Panthers. One major reason for this is Orlov’s ability to force turnovers, with 10 takeaways in 23 games with the Bruins it allows more opportunities for Orlov to feed the puck to others. In a full season, Orlov has the skills to achieve over 50 takeaways a season, which he did in the 2017-2018 and 2018-2019 seasons. On top of Orlov’s ability to force turnovers, when he is on the ice his team has a nearly 53% possession rate of the puck.
DeAngelo is also good at funneling the puck to the offensive stars, with 31 assists over the course of 70 games with the Flyers. Where DeAngelo shines is in his ability to keep the puck in the other team’s zone. Last season, when DeAngelo was on the ice, his team had just above 61% of their faceoffs in the offensive zone. This ability to keep the puck in the other team’s zone and create pressure allows for DeAngelo to have more opportunities to feed the puck to other players as well as shoot the puck himself.
While both players are offensive-minded defensemen, their expressions vary. This analysis shows that DeAngelo shines as a defenseman in the other team’s zone, whereas Orlov shines when the puck is in their own territory. For reference, when DeAngelo was on the ice, the Flyers had a 88.6% shot save percentage. To compare this to Orlov, when he was on the ice the Bruins had a 94.6% shot save percentage. It is a real possibility that the difference could perhaps be between the teams they were playing for. However, when looking at their careers as a whole, DeAngelo’s teams have had a 90.7% save percentage while he was on the ice; and Orlov’s teams having 91.3% save percentage while he was on the ice. Where the differences between these two players grows even more is where the faceoff is while they are on the ice. When DeAngelo was on the ice, the Flyers had faceoffs in the other team’s zone 61.3% of the time. When Orlov was on the ice, the Bruins had faceoffs in the other team’s zone 45.2% of the time. Another noticeable difference between these two players is in their offensive opportunities, with DeAngelo having 174 shots on goal with 11 goals last season, and Orlov having 47 shots on goal with 4 goals last season. While both players are capable of funneling the puck to their forwards, DeAngelo is self-sufficient in that he is also capable of scoring himself. This is especially evident in the power play, where a third of DeAngelo’s goals came from being on the power play last season.
- Dmitrii Orlov (Bruins 2022-2023): 94.6% team shot save percentage while on ice
- Tony DeAngelo (Flyers 2022-2023): 88.6% team shot save percentage while on ice
- Tony DeAngelo (Flyers 2022-2023): 61.3% of faceoffs in opposing team’s zone while on ice
- Dmitrii Orlov (Bruins 2022-2023): 45.2% of faceoffs in opposing team’s zone while on ice
- Tony DeAngelo (Flyers 2022-2023): 11 goals on 174 shots in 70 games
- Dmitrii Orlov (Bruins 2022-2023): 4 goals on 47 shots in 23 games
From this analysis, expect Tony DeAngelo to excel at keeping the puck in the other team’s zone, allowing for the Hurricanes to have more scoring opportunities. You should see DeAngelo have many opportunities to score for himself, and if he’s not the one scoring he will be creating opportunities for other players to score. With Orlov, while he is also offensive minded in that he is capable of creating opportunities for other players, expect him to be more defensive than DeAngelo. Orlov should be able to force more turnovers and help the Canes with getting the puck back into the other team’s zone. As always, once the season kicks off anything can happen. Be sure to tune into the Hurricanes games this season and see for yourself what these two players are capable of. Comment your thoughts below as to the type of season DeAngelo and Orlov will have!