The Vancouver Canucks are making calls and dealing. After trading Anthony Beauvillier to the Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday, Canucks general manager Patrik Allvin cooked some more on Thursday. Vancouver acquired Nikita Zadorov for a 2024-fifth round pick (The same pick that was acquired from the Blackhawks) and a 2026 third-round pick. At that price, it is a good deal for the Canucks, especially since it looked like he would go for more. Zadorov was linked to the Canucks ever since it was reported he requested a trade out of Calgary. Let’s go over what Nikita Zadorov brings to the Canucks.
What Nikita Zadorov Brings
The first thing Canucks fans have to know about Zadorov is that he is a very physical player. He brings a lot of hits. Since he came into the NHL in the 2013-14 season with the Buffalo Sabres, Zadorov has thrown 1,632 hits in his career. At 6’6″ and 248 pounds, he throws some really big hits.
If you have time, sit back, grab some popcorn and enjoy some of Zadorov’s biggest hits. Since Zadorov’s first full season in the NHL, 2014-15, he is 16th in the NHL in hits.
Zadorov is a defence-first type of defenceman. He is solid defensively and is good at breaking up plays around the crease.
Nikita Zadorov (CGY -> VAN in exchange for a 3rd and a 5th) provides some 5v5 defensive value but gives it back by putting his team on the penalty-kill a lot. Nets out at a #4-#5 type. pic.twitter.com/3XPvCFIXT5
— Micah Blake McCurdy (@IneffectiveMath) November 30, 2023
He might not provide a ton of offence but the 28-year-old does have a decent shot. Last season, he scored 14 goals with the Flames which was a new career high. His previous career high was seven which he achieved in 2017-18 and 2018-19 with the Colorado Avalanche.
Zadorov often scores his goals on the transitions, by creating space at the point or by moving forward when the Flames get extended offensive zone time.
Here are some of Nikita Zadorov's goals from last season with the Calgary Flames!
A little glimpse into what the Canucks are getting in Zadorov.
🎥: Flames Highlights on YouTube pic.twitter.com/jEqOn06YCN
— CanucksArmy (@CanucksArmy) December 1, 2023
What Nikita Zadorov Brings
While Zadorov can be defensively responsible, he is pretty mistake-prone. Despite his excellent mobility, he tends to turn the puck over. He has already turned the puck over 12 times this season. Last season, he had 57 turnovers and 61 the season before.
Another thing that can be frustrating about Zadorov is he takes a lot of penalties. He already has 23 penalty minutes this season and that was third among Flames players behind Andrew Mangiapane and Blake Coleman. Zadorov often takes penalties that are unnecessary and avoidable. He has had 180 penalty minutes since the start of the 2021-22 season, the 24th most in that period.
Zadorov’s career so far
Zadorov was drafted 16th overall by the Sabres in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft. He played seven games in the 2013-14 season and scored one goal before being sent back to the OHL’s London Knights.
As mentioned, 2014-15 was his first full-time NHL season, But that would be his last season with the Sabres as he was traded to the Colorado Avalanche in the deal that sent Ryan O’Reilly to Buffalo. But the Russian defenceman struggled in his first year in the Mile High State as he only managed two assists in 22 games and played 52 games with the AHL’s San Antonio Rampage.
2016-17 was a historically bad year for the Avalanche but it was the year Zadorov proved his worth in Colorado. He played 56 games and had 10 assists but his season came to an end in February when he collided with Mikko Rantanen in practice and suffered an ankle injury.
Despite that, he earned a two-year contract extension and was a regular mainstay on the Avalanche’s blue line. In the 2017-18 season, he led the NHL with 278 hits and recorded 15 hits in a March 22 game against the LA Kings, which became a Colorado franchise record for most hits in a game.
After the 2019-20 season, Zadorov was traded to the Blackhawks (despite signing a one-year 3.2 million qualifying offer with Colorado beforehand) with Anton Lindholm in exchange for Brandon Saad and Dennis Gilbert. 2020-21 was his only year in the Windy City and he only managed a goal and seven assists in 55 games, which is his worst offensive season to date. (In a shortened 56-game season by the way.)
At the 2021 NHL Entry Draft, Zadorov was traded to the Flames for a 2022 third-round pick.
Is this a good trade? How does Zadorov fit in the lineup?
Zadorov probably should’ve gone for a second-round pick at least. The fact that the Canucks got him at the cost they did is a win for them.
However, the trade does raise some questions. Can the Canucks re-sign Zadorov in the summer or is this just a rental? He’ll obviously want a raise from his 3.75 million dollar cap hit. Oh yeah, Elias Pettersson and Filip Hronek also need raises.
Then there is Ethan Bear, who was seen practicing by himself in Kelowna wearing Canucks gear.
— Rink Wide: Vancouver (@RinkWideVAN) November 18, 2023
Bear has not been signed by the Canucks (or any other NHL team) due to having shoulder surgery from an injury that happened during the World Championships. Last season, Bear was a reliable and solid bottom-four right-handed defenceman. His puck-moving ability is what the Canucks need. Rick Dhaliwal of CHEK TV’s Donnie and Dhali: The Team reports that the Canucks still have interest in signing Bear despite trading for Zadorov.
As for Zadorov, he is a player that can fit on the second or third pairing. His towering presence would make a good shutdown pairing with Ian Cole or Carson Soucy when he gets back from his injury. That would also mean Noah Juulsen and Mark Friedman would eventually have to come out of the lineup.
While Zadorov is left-handed, he has plenty of experience playing the right side. While he is mistake-prone, his size, tenacity and defensive presence are welcome.
Zadorov will make his Canucks debut on Saturday…in Calgary against the Flames.
Main Photo: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports