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[ARTICLE] What it might take to sign Nikita Zadorov and if it makes sense for the Canucks


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What it might take to sign Nikita Zadorov and if it makes sense for the Canucks (msn.com)

 

The Vancouver Canucks’ upper management group is going to have their hands full this summer as they have nine unrestricted free agents (UFA) after this season. 

 

With the recent news, or lack thereof, about how there have been no contract talks between the Canucks and Nikita Zadorov — who better to kick this series off with than the massive Russian defenceman.

 

How is Nikita Zadorov as a fit on the Canucks?

 

Nikita Zadorov was made available early this season by the Calgary Flames as he’s in the final year of his two-year, $7.5M contract. The Canucks traded a set of picks in exchange for the defenceman, a 3rd round pick in 2026 and a 5th round pick in 2024. 

 

Since the trade to Vancouver, he has transitioned over nicely. Zadorov has spent most of his time playing alongside Tyler Myers and Noah Juulsen. 

 

Seeing that Zadorov is a plus rating with all five defensive pairings proves that he has been a great fit with this Canucks team. It also shows that he’s a versatile defenceman, and his production doesn’t slouch no matter who he plays with. 

 

Now, it may be concerning to see he’s on the wrong side of 50% when it comes to expected goals for (xGF%) and scoring chances for (SCF%). But it’s important to take into account that the Canucks lead the league in time spent with the lead and by over 150 minutes. 

 

This means that Vancouver would typically spend extra time in their zone as the opposing teams try to equalize the game, which would, in turn, allow for more expected goals and scoring chances. 

 

Now being able to put the numbers behind the visual test to prove that Zadorov has been a fit for the Canucks, how much is he going to cost?

 

How Much Will Zadorov Cost?

 

Frank Seravalli first reported in January that Zadorov was looking for a $5M by five-year type of contract extension.

 

The salary cap is projected to move from $83.5M to $87.7M next season. Using the new salary cap, the Canucks would have $30.575M in available cap space for next season. Looking at all of this cap space, they certainly have the room to bring back Zadorov, but with nine unrestricted free agents and three restricted free agents, they have to weigh out all of their options.

 

A clear indicator of a player’s value is to look at their individual numbers and compare them to what other defencemen of their stature are making. 

 

Before looking into Zadorov’s comparables, one must determine what type of player he is. While Canucks fans can judge the kind of player he is, why not hear from the General Manager on what he thinks Nikita Zadorov brings as a defenceman. 

 

When Patrik Allvin was asked if Zadorov would be a long-term interest for the Canucks, Allvin said, “Yeah, I think he’s unique in terms of size and ability to move in today’s game and bring the hardness and a little bit of attitude and character to the back end.”

 

Hearing the General Manager highlight his size, skating ability, and the toughness he brings to the back end as to why Zadorov was the Canucks target, it only makes sense to evaluate him based on these metrics.

 

I’ve analyzed and compared Zadorov’s stats and analytics this season to 10 others that fit the same description that Allvin gave to help gauge what his upcoming contract should look like.

 

Let’s first look into the qualities Allvin mentioned: his height, skating ability and toughness in terms of hits and penalty minutes. 

 

Zadorov is the third tallest of the bunch, sitting at 6’6. Considering his height when looking at his skating speed, ranking in the 91st percentile across the entire league, shows the incredible speed from the big man. 

 

The toughness shows in his hits and penalty minutes. Zadorov is fifth in this group in hits per 60 minutes and top 20 in the league in total hits. The 6’6 defenseman is a bully when he’s on the ice, leading this group in penalty minutes per 60 and ranks in the top 6 in penalty minutes per 60.

 

Analytically, Zadorov provides his team with the highest percentage of high-danger scoring chances (HDCF%) when he’s on the ice compared to any of the listed defencemen help their team when they’re on the ice. Additionally, Zadorov ranks in the top five in the other two important analytical metrics, xGF% & SCF%.

 

Taking all of this into account, let’s get into the numbers.

 

Now, it’s no surprise that Zadorov is in line for a raise on his $3.75M contract — it’s just how high are the Canucks willing to go?

 

Zadorov brings a snarl to the back end and can be considered a bodyguard who can scare off opposing team’s instigators from going after stars like Elias Pettersson, Quinn Hughes, etc. A player like this is something the Canucks haven’t had since 2015-2016, when Derek Dorsett had 177 penalty minutes.

 

Players like Erik Cenrak, Jamie Oleksiak and Brenden Dillon can be the closest of the comparables in my eyes, but all these players make more money than Zadorov. 

 

Erik Cernak – $5.2M

Jamie Oleksiak – $4.6M

Brenden Dillon – $3.9M

 

I may take some flack for this, but considering the speed and toughness he brings to the Canucks back end, I think he should be making somewhere between Cernak and Oleksiak.

Brenden Dillon is the closest to Zadorov analytically. He signed his $3.9M deal in 2020 and will hit the open market on July 1st. One can assume that he is also due for a raise this off-season. 

 

Jamie Oleksiak was the Seattle Kraken’s expansion draft pick and immediately signed his current $4.6M deal. With the Kraken’s team identity in mid-air and the team’s fresh salary cap, they may have had to overpay to sign him. Comparing his production this season to Zadorov’s, it seems difficult to imagine an instance where Zadorov would sign for less. 

 

Erik Cernak signed his eight-year $5.2M per year extension after the Tampa Bay Lightning made their third straight trip to the Stanley Cup final. Clearly, they needed to pay their toughest defenceman after so much success. This season, Cernak is the closest comparable to Zadorov in both hits and penalty minutes per 60 — so don’t be surprised to see their annual dollar amount mirror one another.

 

Now it remains to be seen what the Canucks front office does moving forward. However, one thing is clear: unless it’s a team-friendly deal, any Zadorov extension will have to wait.

What do you think Canucks fans? Would you want to see Zadorov return to this Canucks blue line if the annual number is somewhere between the $5.2-$4.6M range?

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4 minutes ago, Elias Pettersson said:

 

 

If Zadorov gives us a bit of a discount with a little bit more term, I'd be ok. Its more worthwhile to have him around more than Myers. I think theres still an untapped upside there, and a 5 - 6 year deal, we'll have him at the apex of his prime

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Probably wants around $5M.

Whether he will get that very much depends on Hroneks extension and how hard they will go after extending Joshua...

If they sign him long term they may be able to lower his average cap some what to maybe 4.5ish... 

Guess in the end it all depends, how badly he wants to stay in Vancouver. He'll easily get 4.5-5 elsewhere... similar to when we signed Myers. 

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Meh, I think Seravalli lost some credit for me ever since he kept claiming that Petey was demanding well over 12-12.5 million.  He's been on Sekeres and Price claiming Hronek's contract is going to be over 8 million too. 

 

He probably has to maintain his relationships with player agents to keep his access to inside scoops like these, so he ends up reporting high end estimates for contract negotiations that favour the players. 

 

Zadorov at 5x5 is way too much. Has he really out performed his previous contract by that much? 

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Big, mobile, tough with some offence.  We paid Tyler Myers six million to sort of provide these aspects, we pined over Tryamkin for what seems like decades because he shared those aspects (well not so much the tough).

We definitely should be looking to keep him.  

Him and Joshua are very important resigning for this team and should be priorities but we also need to walk if it is going to take an overpayment.

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6 hours ago, Miss Korea said:

 

The conundrum for you, @Elias Pettersson: If you think he is a top 4 defenceman, you're gonna have to pay him like one.

Big Z is, and always has been a bottom pair D.  As such he is already paid at the top of the scale ($3.75 AAV).  This is the predicament.

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4 minutes ago, Crabcakes said:

Big Z is, and always has been a bottom pair D.  As such he is already paid at the top of the scale ($3.75 AAV).  This is the predicament.

 

Agree. 

 

On a contending team, Zadorov is a really good bottom pair guy. And that's nothing to sneeze at. He brings grit and toughness and can eat some minutes. 

 

But he's not a guy you depend on to either carry a powerplay or match up against the other team's top players. Imagine Zadorov getting paid $5 million per when Soucy isn't even getting paid $4 million?? That would be puzzling to me. 

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3 minutes ago, KoreanHockeyFan said:

 

Agree. 

 

On a contending team, Zadorov is a really good bottom pair guy. And that's nothing to sneeze at. He brings grit and toughness and can eat some minutes. 

 

But he's not a guy you depend on to either carry a powerplay or match up against the other team's top players. Imagine Zadorov getting paid $5 million per when Soucy isn't even getting paid $4 million?? That would be puzzling to me. 

Soucy is paid 3.25 for 2 seasons after this one and is more of a 2nd pair D than Z

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1 hour ago, KoreanHockeyFan said:

 

Agree. 

 

On a contending team, Zadorov is a really good bottom pair guy. And that's nothing to sneeze at. He brings grit and toughness and can eat some minutes. 

 

But he's not a guy you depend on to either carry a powerplay or match up against the other team's top players. Imagine Zadorov getting paid $5 million per when Soucy isn't even getting paid $4 million?? That would be puzzling to me. 

 

You will (hopefully) never require Zady to run the point on a powerplay.  The modern 1-3-1 system is used by every team in the NHL, and the majority uses 4 FWD and 1 DEF.  We have Hughes and we will likely re-sign Hronek.  If he is manning the PP point, it means someone is injured.

 

The question is whether he can handle more minutes against stiffer competition.  I think he can.

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2 minutes ago, Elias Pettersson said:


Zadorov is the equivalent of Jamie Oleksiak who averaged under 16 minutes a night for his first 8 years in the NHL. Big Z has averaged over 18 minutes a night his entire career since he came into the league. 
 

Oleksiak is now averaging over 19 minutes a night into his 30’s. Zadorov should be able to do the same thing. 
 

So I have no issues giving him the Oleksiak contract. 4.6x5. 

 

He wants 5x5 you little cheapskate

 

image.thumb.png.30c50496d1880b32177537617c136b27.png

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15 minutes ago, Miss Korea said:

 

You will (hopefully) never require Zady to run the point on a powerplay.  The modern 1-3-1 system is used by every team in the NHL, and the majority uses 4 FWD and 1 DEF.  We have Hughes and we will likely re-sign Hronek.  If he is manning the PP point, it means someone is injured.

 

The question is whether he can handle more minutes against stiffer competition.  I think he can.

 

12 minutes ago, Elias Pettersson said:


Zadorov is the equivalent of Jamie Oleksiak who averaged under 16 minutes a night for his first 8 years in the NHL. Big Z has averaged over 18 minutes a night his entire career since he came into the league. 
 

Oleksiak is now averaging over 19 minutes a night into his 30’s. Zadorov should be able to do the same thing. 
 

So I have no issues giving him the Oleksiak contract. 4.6x5. 

Yeah I think Zadorov is a capable top 4D.  Coach Tocc just deploys our 2nd and 3rd pair evenly to balance the minutes played.  With Zadorov's skating ability and physical strength, I don't see how he can't play around 20min a night.  That's top 4 minutes.  I disagree entirely that Zadorov is a 3rd pair defenceman.

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7 minutes ago, HKSR said:

 

Yeah I think Zadorov is a capable top 4D.  Coach Tocc just deploys our 2nd and 3rd pair evenly to balance the minutes played.  With Zadorov's skating ability and physical strength, I don't see how he can't play around 20min a night.  That's top 4 minutes.  I disagree entirely that Zadorov is a 3rd pair defenceman.


Zadorov averaged 19:28 a night in a full season in 2017-2018 with Colorado. So there is no reason he can’t do it again. Like you said, after Hughes and Hronek Tocchet likes to mix up the rest of the Dmen. Some nights Zadorov plays more than Cole and Soucy. Other times he doesn’t. 

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8 hours ago, Elias Pettersson said:

 

Personally, if we could keep a NMC out of the contract, maybe give a 10 - 12 team NTC clause, I would probably do this in a minute. Its hard to replace the type of physicality that he brings to our defense.

 

Don't read into lineup order or pairings.

Hughes 7.85, Hronek 7.5 (speculating)

Zadorov 5, Juulsen .775

Soucy 3.25, McWard, Johansson, Woo, Brisebois, Felton, Pettersson, Free agent this summer

 

I would let Myers walk if he's looking for more than 2 years, 3 million per. I think Zadorov makes more sense, plays a more physical game, is a faster skater, plays either side and is 5 or 6 years younger than Myers.

 

I like how Myers has progressed this year with better defensive coaching, but I'd prioritize the group listed above first.

 

 

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3 hours ago, Ghostsof1915 said:

Trade Mik and give him his $4.750 million per year. Problem solved.

There are guys we're going to need to move. The problem with moving Mikheyev is, he's starting to perform again like he did early season. The type of injury that they shut him down for at the end of last season takes considerable time to fully recover from. Just because he was physically ready to play at the start of the season, he didn't have time to really strengthen the leg last summer. His last few games, he's been playing with the drive, speed and determination that made management go sign him a couple of summers ago. If he can maintain this level, his speed is a real asset to the team.

 

It's complicated looking at the team as it is right now and figuring who stays and who goes.

 

Boeser - Really turned his game around at both ends of the ice

Garland - Playing with the determination that makes other teams take penalties

Lindholm - For what we gave up to get him, I still want to see more actual production from him. Would like to re-sign him but then someone else on this list needs to go.

Mikheyev - As above

Blueger - Would probably let walk if he wants more than around 2 - 2.25 per. I think we have guys who are close enough to fill his role

Suter - Same as with Blueger, would let him walk if he wants more than 2 million

Lafferty - Would offer him 1 year, 1.5 million or let him walk.

Joshua - Probably the hardest guy to peg on this list. We started struggling as soon as he went down to injury. He provides a spark in our bottom 6, similar to what Miller does in the top 6. Can we sign him for less then 3 million per for a couple of years.

 

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3 hours ago, HKSR said:

So I read that as he wants $25M (5x5).

 

Pretty sure they could settle at $24M or $4.8M x 5.  However...

 

Since he's 28yo, I'd have no issue going 6 years.  

 

Give him a bit more than $25M to have him sign the extra year....

 

$4.25M x 6 = $25.5M.  That'd be my preference.

If they got him to sign for this, it would be close to a steal.... would definitely be well worth it. 

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