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Montreal Canadiens Have Options To Maximize Evgenii Dadonov’s Value

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Montreal Canadiens

When Evgenii Dadonov was acquired by the Montreal Canadiens last week in exchange for Shea Weber’s contract, most saw him as a cap dump and just a contract to make the money work, but the Canadiens have a few options to maximize the asset that is Dadonov.

The 33-year-old is far from a finished player, and his $5M cap hit for one year is far from being a problem for the Montreal Canadiens, who are looking for long-term cap flexibility. In fact, there’s an opportunity for the Canadiens to take a few avenues with Dadonov at this junction; as they have much more room to be creative with the cap and Dadonov’s contract than the Golden Knights.

 

Montreal Canadiens Trade Him In The Offseason

After trading Shea Weber for Dadonov, general manager Kent Hughes, who is currently active in NHL trade talks, did not rule out possible flipping the Russian winger if the right offer came along. Granted, being able to shed Dadonov’s $5M contract before the start of free agency on July 13 would help the Canadiens target some interesting free agents, albeit not the top-end ones like Kadri or Klingberg.

Dadonov himself is not a bad player, but was likely put in an awkward situation in Vegas, as the struggling Golden Knights didn’t have much going for them last season; the first time they missed the playoffs in their history. What is intriguing with Dadonov is that, after the Golden Knights failed to rade him to the Anaheim Ducks in what was a very public oversight on their part, Dadonov’s offensive numbers took off in a very impressive way. In the 15 games he played from the trade deadline on March 21 up until the end of the season, Dadonov put up five goals and 11 assists for 16 points in just 15 games. Ironically, he was one of the main reasons that the Golden Knights were even in the Western Conference playoff race after the NHL Trade Deadline, as he came up clutch for Vegas on multiple occasions with big goals or timely plays.

There is certainly value in a player like Dadonov, and a team could use that kind of scoring prowess and experience in their top-9 going into this season. If the Canadiens were able to take on a smaller contract from a club in the $2M range, or retain up to 50% of Dadonov’s contract, then Dadonov would become a far more attractive piece on the NHL trade market than he previously was. Even shedding 2.5M off of the cap by retaining 50% of Dadonov’s contract in exchange for picks or prospects would be huge for the Canadiens, who currently sit with just under $3M in cap space at the moment. However, unless the Canadiens get a really interesting offer, it would likely be wise to retain Dadonov going into the 2022-2023 season.

McLean's Pub

 

Preparing A Trade Deadline Deal

Dadonov has shown in the past that he can be a perfect complement to an offensive line at the NHL level, and his end-of-season performance last season show’s he’s far from finished in this league. Having had experience playing with burgeoning youngsters like Jonathan Huberdeau or Alexander Barkov in Florida, perhaps playing Dadonov with Cole Caufield and Nick Suzuki could be a “two birds, one stone” situation for the Canadiens.

With the Montreal Canadiens currently using right-shooting Cole Caufield at Left Wing, it almost makes sense to line up the right-shooting Dadonov, who routinely plays at Right Wing, to the right of Caufield and Suzuki. This finally gives the two youngsters a veteran presence that could likely keep up with them offensively, all while putting Dadonov in the best position to show the rest of the league what he can do in the right setting. It wouldn’t be outlandish to see Dadonov return to a 50-point pace playing with the Canadiens’ top offensive players, which would then position the club to flip the Russian winger at the 2023 NHL Trade Deadline with retention for a good asset.

It would be more likely that the Canadiens would garner a better return for Dadonov if he plays with the Canadiens in an advantageous situation, as it would show that his strong finish to the 2021-2022 campaign was no fluke. It would give the restructuring Canadiens some extra assets to move throughout the season, continuing Kent Hughes’ trend of buying low and selling high.

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