The Flames have added to their back end, acquiring defenseman Nikita Zadorov from Chicago in exchange for Toronto’s third-round pick in 2022 (previously acquired at the trade deadline for David Rittich).
Zadorov was one of the tough qualifying offer decisions that needed to be made earlier this week with Chicago believed to be fearing what an arbitration award could look like. They ultimately did tender the $3.2MM offer although they won’t be the one signing him to his next deal by the looks of it.
The 26-year-old was acquired from Colorado last offseason in the trade that saw Brandon Saad head to Colorado. He was his usual physical self, notching 190 hits in 55 games but recorded just a goal and seven assists while logging 19:12 per game. Zadorov, who stands 6’6, is someone whose size always intrigues teams but his playing style limits him to more of a depth role. Each time he becomes arbitration-eligible, that price tag has only gone up and it appears it is at the point where it’s too expensive for them to afford, especially with the recent acquisitions of Marc-Andre Fleury and Tyler Johnson.
Meanwhile, Calgary has a big hole to fill on their back end with veteran Mark Giordano and his $6.75MM price tag gone to Seattle in expansion. It’s possible that Zadorov will step into that vacated spot in the top four and will be able to do so at a lower price tag than Giordano so they will have some money to spend towards filling another need as well. He’s one year away from UFA eligibility so Calgary will need to work fairly quickly to get a new deal done with arbitration hearings only a few weeks away. As for the Blackhawks, they have been linked to Jake McCabe so it’s quite possible that Zadorov’s replacement will be signing within the next couple of hours.