Flyers Trading for Golden Knights’ Dadonov Could Be a Win-Win

There are a ton of options out there for the Philadelphia Flyers’ to upgrade their forward group this offseason. Not every player is going to want to sign with the Flyers, and they aren’t going to take a stab at everyone either. This may narrow the choices, but general manager Chuck Fletcher could benefit from a deal with the Vegas Golden Knights.

You may think a player like William Karlsson is a better option for the Flyers than who I’m suggesting – Evgenii Dadonov – but we’ll go over the reasons why that may not be the case.

Golden Knights Will Move Dadonov

It is well known that the Golden Knights are not a loyal organization. After the surprise that was their inaugural season, it has been all about winning at any cost for Vegas. That has meant trading players if they aren’t performing and signing the best players they can get. They are always thinking about their next move and don’t worry about who they drop in the process.

Over the past few seasons, the Golden Knights have acquired a ton of good players that take up significant cap space. The team has 10 players with a cap hit of $5 million or higher for next season and several roster spots to fill. Here’s the breakdown:

  • Jack Eichel (4 x $10 million)
  • Mark Stone (5 x $9.5 million)
  • Alex Pietrangelo (5 x $8.8 million)
  • Max Pacioretty (1 x $7 million)
  • William Karlsson (5 x $5.9 million)
  • Alec Martinez (2 x $5.25 million)
  • Shea Theodore (3 x $5.2 million)
  • Robin Lehner (3 x $5 million)
  • Jonathan Marchessault (2 x $5 million)
  • Evgenii Dadonov (1 x $5 million)

The team also had Reilly Smith earning $5 million until the end of this season, but now he is set to become an unrestricted free agent. Looking at all of those contracts, Dadonov is the easiest to move. He may be one of the least impactful players of the group, but he has the lowest cap hit and the talent to still make a difference.

The salary cap will be $82.5 million in 2022-23, so having just 10 players take up $61.45 million doesn’t leave a lot of room to add or hold depth that will contribute the way a team needs their depth to.

Evgenii Dadonov, Vegas Golden Knights (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

The Golden Knights already almost pulled off a trade involving Dadonov at the deadline when they tried to send him to the Anaheim Ducks. The trade was invalidated because the Ducks were on his 10-team no-trade clause list, and the trade didn’t comply with the clause. The Golden Knights were then forced to work their cap space to fit Martinez and Stone under the cap after they returned from LTIR (long-term injured reserve). Now that Vegas is aware of which teams are on his list, they can deal him accordingly, and if the Flyers are not on that list and the cost benefits them, they should consider a trade.

Flyers Could Score by Acquiring Dadonov

Vegas had to send a high pick with Dadonov to get the Ducks to take the contract off their hands. That and they had to take John Moore as well as Ryan Kesler’s contract – who hasn’t played a game since the 2018-19 season; the draft pick would have been either a second-round pick in 2023 or 2024 – which would be a big help.

Whether the Flyers plan on rebuilding after next season or not, the one year left on Dadonov’s deal gives them the flexibility to either hold onto him or deal him at the deadline for assets. The Golden Knights should still be willing to send Dadonov away with a pick in order to be cap-compliant next season and get back into the playoffs; it’s also unlikely they will face the same LTIR carousel as last season.

It’s not like the Flyers would just be taking on a contract of a washed-up player who is going to spend the final year of his contract in the bottom-six and not contribute. Dadonov has lots of offensive talent and has scored 20 or more goals in four of the five seasons since he returned to the NHL in 2017-18. In the one season he failed to do so, he played just 55 games and was on the rebuilding Ottawa Senators.

Evgenii Dadonov Mattias Janmark Nicolas Roy Vegas Golden Knights
Evgenii Dadonov, Mattias Janmark, and Nicolas Roy of the Vegas Golden Knights celebrate a goal (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Dadonov is a clean player who often gets some votes for the Lady Byng Trophy as he can stay out of the penalty box and still make his presence known. This season, he really picked up his physicality, which will go over well in the eyes of John Tortorella. Dadonov scored 20 goals and 43 points in 78 games and was one of the hottest players in the NHL after the deadline when his deal fell through.

He finished the season very hot with five goals and 16 points in the final 16 games after “returning” to the team. He also recorded two goals and five points in the two games following the deadline and scored the game-winner in a massive comeback victory. If the Golden Knights had made the playoffs after pulling themselves back into contention, a lot of credit would have been given to Dadonov. He can easily fit into a middle-six and play the power play as well.

Related: 3 Trades the Flyers Can Make This Offseason to Maximize Impact

He may not be the first option when you look around the league and see who should be up for grabs in free agency or via trade, but there are also very few available players who the Flyers would only have to commit to for one season while still bringing in much-needed offense, and get assets in return rather than giving up the bag or picks/prospects. Watch for the Flyers to make a few moves this offseason, and acquiring Dadonov from the Golden Knights could play very well for their future, whichever road the Flyers take.

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