After the shocking but somewhat expected move in the 2021 offseason to trade Marc-Andre Fleury, Vegas Golden Knights general manager Kelly McCrimmon went on to use his newly acquired cap space to bolster his teams’ offense. He did so by trading for Evgenii Dadonov on July 28th.
The Golden Knights acquired Dadonov from the Ottawa Senators in exchange for defenseman Nick Holden and a 2022 third-round pick.
With the team’s most recent game against the Senators, and Holden returning to T-Mobile Arena, now is a better time than any to evaluate Dadonov’s current season.
It isn’t exactly pretty.
Rasmus Sandin absolutely drops Dadonov pic.twitter.com/fR1Vz1z0M7
— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) January 12, 2022
Dadonov’s Offensive Struggles
Dadonov has 10 goals, 12 assists, and 22 points in 55 games this season. He most recently broke a 14-game pointless streak with an assist against the Anaheim Ducks. But currently, he has just one point in his last 16 games and has gone 18 games without a goal.
Clearly, there is something off with his game, whether it be chemistry, a lack of confidence in himself, or even the current situation with his home country having an impact on his play.
We have seen Dadonov be a reliable offensive force with 65 and 70 point seasons with the Florida Panthers. But it seems as if his prime years are behind him given that the 32-year old is only on pace for a 32 point season.
Part of the reason Dadonov has been so inconsistent this season has been his constant travels in the Golden Knights lineup. With the team’s injury crisis that has affected them all season, Dadonov has seen several linemates in the 55 games that he has played in.
He has played with Nicolas Roy, Jack Eichel, Nolan Patrick, and even Peyton Krebs. He has been a consistent member of the Golden Knights powerplay as well.
With the return of Max Pacioretty, Dadonov was bumped down to the fourth line Sunday night against the Senators. Head coach Peter DeBoer justified his decision regarding Dadonov’s postgame as he was on the ice for Eichel’s game-winning goal that came with five seconds left.
“With the different names we have got on the board right now I think we have a lot of interchangeable guys. He started there (on the fourth line) but we moved him around and played him with Stephey (Chandler Stephenson) in the third,” said DeBoer.
— Tyler Kasch (@TheTylerKasch) March 7, 2022
Current Lineup Outlook
It’s not a good sign though when a former 70-point scorer is placed on the fourth-line despite their team having four forwards injured. Mark Stone and Mattias Janmark are out, and the Golden Knights have put guys like Chandler Stephenson and Nicolas Roy at wing.
But they don’t seem to trust Dadonov enough on the first line anymore as just as soon as Pacioretty came back, Dadonov was bumped down to the fourth line.
Only the hockey gods know what the Golden Knight’s fully-healthy line combinations look like. Who knows if we will even get there at this point. But assuming the Misfit Line stays together and Stone and Pacioretty are top-six forwards, Dadonov is looking at a bottom-six role.
What to do with Dadonov?
Dadonov’s nickname in the locker room for the Golden Knights appears to be “dad,” and similar to dads all across the world, Dadonov has disappeared. Just in this case it wasn’t for cigarettes.
Eons ago I wrote about how the Golden Knights may look at Dadonov to be the sacrificial lamb for cap space due to the Jack Eichel trade. I still think there is something to this as Dadonov makes $5 million per season and has another year left on his deal.
The Golden Knights are in a position where they need every member of their roster to live up to their contract. Stone is currently on LTIR, but there is no confirmation saying that he will stay there up until the playoffs. Alec Martinez has yet to return as well and hasn’t played since November 11th.
If there are any takers for Dadonov I think the Golden Knights take what they can get for Dadonov. The cap space is simply too valuable for what is currently an underachieving winger. I could see the Arizona Coyotes, Ottawa Senators, or Detroit Red Wings being interested in Dadonov.
With Brett Howden emerging and Nolan Patrick also as an option, not to mention Henderson Silver Knights recruits Jake Leschyshyn and Jonas Rondbjerg, the Golden Knight should be able to patch the hole left by Dadonov.