Nikita Zadorov shocked hockey fans yesterday after he requested a trade through his agent, Dan Milstein of GoldStar. Kevin Weekes was first to report on this, and it was shortly confirmed by TSN and The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun and Chris Johnston:
The notation of Milstein looking for a ‘quick resolution’ is interesting. We could see a Zadorov trade as early as today. He has already been connected to the Toronto Maple Leafs, Vancouver Canucks, and New Jersey Devils. So, let’s take a look at a similar player and his trade return, which should be what the Flames are looking for.
The Flames should use the Ben Chiarot trade as a roadmap for any Nikita Zadorov return
Physical and defensive defenders always cost a premium at the trade deadline. Contenders are looking for these guys to add depth to their blueline and play the hard style that playoff hockey demands. One of those players was Ben Chiarot, who had spent a few years in Montreal, and was a figure on their blueline when they reached the Stanley Cup Finals in 2020-21. Standing at 6’3, 234 lbs, Chiarot was a force to reckon with. He played upwards of 26 minutes a night during the Habs run. Chiarot is similar to Zadorov in that he can play either side, up and down your lineup. He is usually found in the latter defensive pairing, but can play higher in the lineup if needed.
In 2021-22, Chiarot was in the final year of his deal which paid him an AAV of 3.5M. Montreal was out of the playoff race and Chiarot was placed on the trade block. The Calgary Flames were actually rumoured to be in on Ben Chiarot at this time. But Florida outbid Calgary and other interested teams for his services, and acquired him on March 16th, 2022.
The trade is described below, courtesy of our friends at CapFriendly.com:
The Florida Panthers received Ben Chiarot at 50% retained (1.75M).
The Montreal Canadiens received Ty Smilanic (2020 3rd rounder), a 2023 1st round pick, and a 2022 4th round pick.
What can the Flames take away from this
The Flames are likely to retain 50% on Zadorov’s contract in any trade, unless an equal salary is being sent back Calgary’s way. Cap space around the league is very tight. Half of the league is currently using LTIR. There will need to be either salary retained or a bad contract sent back Calgary’s way to make Zadorov’s 3.75M deal manageable. If the Flames are trading with the Devils for example, they have roughly $1M in cap space. Retaining 50% on Zadorov’s contract (1.875M) and taking back Brendan Smith’s 1.1M deal would make things work cap wise for both teams. If the Flames are trading with the Canucks or Maple Leafs, it’ll be dollar in, dollar out. I look at Anthony Beauvillier and John Klingberg as two guys from those respective teams as guys who would make the cap work.
The market for a physical defenceman who can play either side is a first round pick and prospect. The 2023 1st rounder was the main piece coming back Montreal’s way in the Chiarot trade. Smilanic was a recent third round pick who was playing in college. He’s now playing for Montreal’s ECHL team, the Trois-Rivières Lions. Who knows if he’ll pan out, but he had some decent pedigree when he was traded to the Habs. I would take a guess and say Smilanic was thrown in to beat offers from other teams. The 2022 4th rounder was thrown in for Montreal retaining 50% of Chiarot’s contract.
A team will get Zadorov for almost a full season plus playoffs, and maybe more?
Now, everyone can agree that the Chiarot return was an overpay from Florida’s end. But they were all-in, and identified Chiarot as a guy that could add an new element to their ranks. With Zadorov requesting a trade and wanting a quick resolution, a team could get him today! That means they would get Zadorov for the remainder of the 2023-24 season (~70 games), plus the playoffs. Could this mean Zadorov will fetch a bigger return than Chiarot did? If Zadorov has already expressed interest in joining the Maple Leafs and Devils, maybe an extension would come in any deal. That would only increase Calgary’s trade return.
This will be interesting to follow. This is a massive opportunity for General Manager Craig Conroy to hit a home run. Here’s hoping he does just that. If he can net a 1st rounder and other assets, I will be very impressed.
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