Buried in Elliotte Friedman’s always interesting “30 Thoughts” column for Sportsnet last night was one short note about KHL star and free agent Evgeny Dadonov. The 28-year old forward has been linked to several teams since the KHL season ended, most recently the Vegas Golden Knights who had re-opened talks with him to join Vadim Shipachyov for their inaugural season. Friedman reports differently though, saying that Dadonov is getting close with an Eastern Conference team.
Way back in March Friedman had reported that Dadonov was looking for around $3.5MM in the NHL, a number that would be palatable to many teams around the league. The winger put up 66 points in 53 games this season, his fifth since leaving the NHL in the first place. Drafted by the Florida Panthers 71st overall in 2007, Dadonov never could find much success at the highest level but still has tremendous offensive potential. Now slightly bigger than he was as a young player in Florida, perhaps his game is better suited for the league than it was prior to the last lockout.
Among Eastern teams with some interest, the Toronto Maple Leafs, Montreal Canadiens, New York Rangers and Carolina Hurricanes have all been very tenuously linked to the Russian forward in the past. In our reader poll last month, over 40% voted that he would eventually end up with the Golden Knights, though Toronto and Montreal were second and third respectively.
Though he can play both sides, Dadonov is left handed and would likely need to play his off-wing in Montreal. The Canadiens are loaded on left wing after acquiring Jonathan Drouin, unless one of he or Alex Galchenyuk is moved back to center. The Maple Leafs have a glut of wingers, but would have an opening if a player like James van Riemsdyk was moved out in trade. Either way, with his flexibility Dadonov could find a position somewhere on nearly every roster in the Eastern conference, meaning several teams have probably expressed interest in bringing him aboard. In what will be another instance of a Russian player coming to the NHL this offseason, it’s becoming more and more clear that the reports that Olympic play would be a factor in decisions was more of a negotiating tactic from the KHL than anything else.