8:38 p.m.: Three teams have documented interest in Zadorov’s services, per TSN’s Darren Dreger: the Toronto Maple Leafs, Vancouver Canucks and New Jersey Devils. All three teams would need to ship out a contract with a similar cap hit to Zadorov’s $3.75MM to make a deal work.
7:35 a.m.: ESPN’s Kevin Weekes is reporting that Calgary Flames defenseman Nikita Zadorov has requested a trade to another team. TSN Insider Pierre LeBrun also tweeted about the situation, adding that Zadorov’s agent Dan Milstein is hoping for a quick resolution. The news of the request came out after the Flames 5-4 overtime loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs last night, a game in which Zadorov had a goal and a huge hit in the third period.
Calgary has had a disastrous start to the season at 4-7-2 and is feeling like a team that will see a lot of changes in the next 12 months. Zadorov is a pending unrestricted free agent, as are his teammates Noah Hanifin, Elias Lindholm, Chris Tanev, and Oliver Kylington.
For his part, Zadorov has had a good start to the season with a goal and four assists in 12 games. The 6-foot-6 rearguard has been able to help the Flames drive play while averaging two hits a game. The 28-year-old is averaging over 18 minutes of ice time a game this year which is right in line with his career average. Any team that acquires the native of Moscow, Russia would be getting a big hulking defenseman who can provide physicality, block shots, kill penalties and chip in a bit offensively.
On the topic of acquiring teams, NHL Insider Chris Johnston is reporting that Zadorov would welcome a trade to Toronto. The Maple Leafs could certainly use the skillset that Zadorov would bring, however, he is in the final year of a two-year $7.5MM contract that carries a cap hit of $3.75MM. This would require the Flames to retain half of Zadorov’s cap hit and for Toronto to find a way to maneuver other money off their books. In fact, given that over half of the NHL is within a million dollars of the salary cap ceiling, the Flames will likely have to take some salary back to facilitate a move.
The Flames will be engaging with as many teams as possible in the coming days, so it’s hard to speculate where Zadorov could end up. Calgary could be in for a lot of trade talks in the coming weeks with Zadorov being the first domino to fall for the Flames.