The 2023 NHL Trade Deadline is now under four weeks away. We’ve looked into James van Riemsdyk already, as he was connected to the Calgary Flames via Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman. While the All-Star break also typically sees little action on the trade front, there will be plenty of happenings in the near future.
For the Flames, I would prefer the route in which the team trades pending unrestricted free agents (such as Trevor Lewis, Milan Lucic, Brett Ritchie, and Michael Stone) to try and recoup some of the picks they’ve sent away in the last few years. With this plan, the Flames would still have a good team that can try and make the playoffs, while also getting back some lower draft capital. But as mentioned before, the Flames are likely to be buyers should they remain in the hunt. So, we will focus on some additions that the Flames could make.
Calgary’s trade criteria
What are the Flames likely looking for? Well, general manager Brad Treliving has stated he wants to add another scoring winger. The Flames are having difficulty getting into prime scoring areas, and guys that can put the puck into the net. A right shot would also be a plus.
The Flames are most definitely going to be in the market for a rental, as the extensions for Huberdeau, Weegar, and Vladar kick in for the 2023-24 season. That is an extra $9.05M added to the Flames books, with only Lucic’s 5.25M being the major cap to leave the books.
The cap hit for the acquired player shouldn’t matter much, as the Flames have been accruing space for the majority of the season.
So, the following criteria presents itself:
- Plays left-wing or right-wing
- UFA at the end of 2022-23
- Goal scoring history
- Can get to the hard areas in the offensive zone
- Right shot is a plus
This gives way to some natural targets. One of which is Evgenii Dadonov.
Dadonov hasn’t been talked about much leading up to the deadline, but there’s a good chance he’s moved. The Canadiens will not be making the playoffs, and have an abundance of wingers already on their roster. Trading Dadonov and other rentals will help to free up spots for younger players, and acquire some draft capital or prospects. Dadonov was acquired by the Habs prior to this season, and is a pending UFA with a cap hit of $5M, per CapFriendly.com.
The one caveat with Dadonov is that he does have a ten-team no-trade list. We know the Anaheim Ducks are on there, since Dadonov declined a trade there at last year’s deadline.
Dadonov has had a rough year with the Canadiens, so there is hope you could acquire him for a lower price. He has four goals and 13 points in 41 games this season, which is hardly impressive. However, the 5’11”, 189 lbs winger is a career average 20- to 28-goal guy, which would be a much needed boost to the Flames lineup. His career-high for points came in 2018–19, when he had 70 points in 82 games with the Florida Panthers.
Dadonov also has a history playing with Huberdeau, in which they were both effective. Per NaturalStatTrick.com, Huberdeau and Dadonov played 1452:25 at 5v5 in the three seasons together in Florida. In those minutes, the CF%, SCF%, HDCF%, and xGF% metrics were higher when they played together, as opposed to playing apart.
Dadonov’s shooting percentage
Dadonov’s career average shooting percentage has hovered around 14% before the 2022–23 season. Only Dillon Dube, Brett Ritchie, and Elias Lindholm are Flames regulars hovering around 14% for the Flames this season.
This season, Dadonov is only shooting 6.5%, which is why his goal totals are so low this season. A low shooting percentage could be a factor of the environment Dadonov is playing in, or just a down year. It is very likely a combination of both, as the Habs are struggling this season, and Dadonov has played on four different teams in the last four seasons.
This is displayed perfectly in the following graphic courtesy of HockeyViz.com:
This graphic displays the poor performance by Dadonov this season. The expected line in red has dropped in the last few years, but is still higher than the observed line in black.
Taking a deeper look into Dadonov’s game
Taking a look at Dadonov’s isolated 5v5 impact, also courtesy of HockeyViz.com, we can see some various traits to Dadonov that make him successful. Since coming back to the NHL in 2017–18, Dadonov has gotten excess shot opportunities from near the front of the net. He has been a volume shooter for his entire career, so while he’s not the net-front guy per say, he does get opportunities from there. His defensive game certainly isn’t the most potent thing, but he is generally an above-average defender.
Now, let’s talk about Dadonov’s 5v5 with and without impacts, once again courtesy of HockeyViz.com. With Dadonov on the ice, the Canadiens are a better team in both the offensive and defensive ends. Looking at the offence particularly, we see that the Habs are generating little to no offence from the middle of the ice. With Dadonov on the ice, there is a ton of shot generation from the left front side of the ice, and at the front of the net. As mentioned before, defence isn’t the strong suit to Dadonov’s game, but the Canadiens are a slightly better defensive team with Dadonov on the ice.
Should the Flames trade for Dadonov?
I think of this option as the buy-low option if there’s nothing else. Dadonov isn’t the cream of the crop in the trade market by any means, but he does meet items on the Flames’ checklist. Dadonov gets his excess shots from the front of the net, but is more of a volume shooter. That is definitely a trait the Flames could use, along with Dadonov being a rental. His history with Huberdeau is a positive, and Dadonov presents a solid buy-low option with an addition of speed and skill.
There are a ton of better options available in the market, but given Calgary’s position in the standings right now, it might be the route to take. It doesn’t make sense to mortgage the future to try and go all-in this year, as they could easily miss the playoffs. Taking some gambles on buy-low options and hoping the team can figure it out naturally is likely the route this team takes.
Calgary and Montreal have made two deals in recent memory; the Tyler Toffoli deal on Valentines Day last year, and dumping Sean Monahan in the summer. The Flames were also connected to Ben Chiarot last year, and have always been involved in Josh Anderson rumours, so it seems as though GMs Brad Treliving and Kent Hughes talk quite a bit. I could see them coming together on another deal for Dadonov, if the Flames believe he can rebound.
We have a ton more deadline content coming in the coming weeks, so stay tuned for that!