Evgenii Dadonov is what you would call an NHL veteran. He has eight years of experience, with three different teams and is two games away from career game no. 400. And that’s not to mention his play overseas as his NHL career was broken up by a four-year stint in the KHL.
But this season has certainly been different for Dadonov, with COVID, the current issues happening in his home country, and most recently, a botched trade that involved him and a no-trade list.
On Monday, better known as NHL Trade Deadline Day, Dadonov was “traded” to the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for John Moore and the contract of Ryan Kesler. The Golden Knights made this move to free up roughly $3.3 million in cap space by moving Dadonov’s $5 million contract out.
But an error on the part of the Golden Knights/Senators/Canada/Obama administration (whoever you want to blame) made the trade invalid. Turns out the Golden Knights did not have Dadonov’s 10-team no-trade list which essentially does what the name says. The Ducks were one of the teams on Dadonov’s no-trade list and on Wednesday the NHL voided the Dadonov trade to the Ducks.
“It has been a stressful past couple of days. But there was nothing I could do I was just waiting on the decision,” said Dadonov.
No Hard Feelings?
I see everyone in the hockey world overexaggerating this scenario and saying that it must be awkward for Dadonov to come back to the Golden Knights, a team that “doesn’t want him.” Au contraire I say. There is no bad blood between these two parties, as the attempted trade was strictly business.
The Golden Knights, given Dadonov’s recent scoring ways, are more than happy to keep him. It’s just the salary cap that needs to be worked out.
“The team told be probably an hour before the deadline. Then I checked my list and saw that Anaheim was on it and that was pretty much it and there was nothing I could do. I was just waiting on the league’s decision. I was not really mad, I just have my rights and I was waiting” Dadonov said.
After the void, Dadonov made his glorious return and scored a goal and two assists against the Predators. He’s not the type of person to hold a grudge and is happy to be back with the Vegas Golden Knights.
“He’s a great person. I had him my first time around in the NHL as a coach in Florida as a young player. Now I got him back as a man, a father, and a husband, so I’ve seen both sides of him. The great thing about him is if somebody can handle this situation, it’s him,” said Golden Knights head coach Peter DeBoer, who coached in his 1,000th career NHL game Thursday night.
— Vegas Golden Knights (@GoldenKnights) March 25, 2022
Looking at the pools of people that crowd T-Mobile Arena every game night you tend to see the same jerseys. Marchessault no. 81, Stone no. 61, Pacioretty no. 67, former players like Fleury no. 29 and even no. 58 to honor the Las Vegas shooting victims are abundant. But you rarely see any no. 63 sweaters.
This will change quickly.
This past week has done a number to Dadonov in terms of his relationship with the fans. He went from having a relatively niche fanbase to having all of VGK Nation applaud him before and after Thursday night’s game.
“I felt the support from the fans. It pumped me up even more. I’ve always loved playing here even when I was coming with Florida. It’s a great experience to play in front of this crowd and I still think they’re the best fans in the league,” said Dadonov after Thursday’s win.
— Vegas Golden Knights (@GoldenKnights) March 25, 2022
Something to Rally Around
It’s a great story, and something we can all get behind as I think all of us have felt unwanted and unneeded in life. But for Dadonov, he took this past week in stride and as a professional.
“It was obviously a kind of unusual situation that we faced as an organization but I think that the crowd responded well and made sure he was welcome here. He’s been great for us all year. He keeps doing what he’s been doing all year and he gives us a chance to win hockey games,” said Golden Knights forward Jonathan Marchessault.
Evgenii Dadonov gets the loudest ovation by a lot.
Pretty cool for a guy who’s had a hell of a week. pic.twitter.com/kxjfdZ9vHA
— Jesse Granger (@JesseGranger_) March 25, 2022
With the way that the Golden Knight’s current season is going, this is exactly what the team needs. Dadonov can serve as something to rally around and get into the playoffs.
While he may be a veteran NHL’er, Dadonov has only made the Stanley Cup Playoffs once in his career with the Florida Panthers in 2019-20, and that came in the bubble where the Panthers didn’t advance.
The Future For “Daddy”
I’m sorry I truly am… I think we all wanted the nickname for Dadonov to be something less… well you know. But Jack Eichel called Dadonov “daddy” four times in the postgame media presser Thursday so it looks like we are stuck with it.
Speaking of Eichel, it looks like he and Dadonov are starting to show some chemistry together. Whether it is on the powerplay on at five-on-five.
“It’s a great opportunity to play with him, he’s really skilled, he can hold the puck, and just drive the play with his game… He always finds the open ice and finds me” said Dadonov on Eichel’s play.
I think we could see these two form a sort of tandem which would open up so many other possibilities for DeBoer and his line combinations.
“It was nice to see Daddy (see I told you) back out there tonight and obviously he made an impact to our group,” said Eichel.
Dadonov has one year left on his contract at $5 million past this season. He is 33 years old. It would be asinine for the Golden Knights to trade Dadonov in the offseason after all this, especially if he continues to score.
It’s a good problem to have if you are Kelly McCrimmon though. “Which goal scorer can I get rid of.”
But for now, the focus for Dadonov and the Golden Knights will be to make the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Golden Knights currently sit outside the playoff line and will look to pick up a win against the Chicago Blackhawks Saturday at noon.