Photo credit:Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
A breakdown of what the Vancouver Canucks are getting in Nikita Zadorov
2 months ago
Inside UBC Thunderbird Arena on Wednesday, Canucks GM Patrik Allvin addressed the media following his acquisition of a 2024 5th-round pick from the Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for forward Anthony Beauvillier.
After gaining $4.5M in cap space flexibility, Allvin pulled off a masterclass in “how not to tip one’s hand.”
Though he may have when he gave a wry smirk after being asked if the team needed a defenceman.
That subtle smile and eyebrow raise said it all! Trader Pat was cooking!
That evening, following the club’s 3-1 defeat of the Anaheim Ducks, Rick Tocchet added, “We’ll see what we’re going to use with that cap space down the road.”
Evidently, it was a very short road because Allvin traded the 2024 5th-round pick they acquired in the Beauvillier trade alongside a 2026 3rd-round pick for Nikita Zadorov, not 16 hours after #TheSmirk.
Don’t worry; this piece isn’t about the pros and cons of the trade itself, but the player!
What can Canucks fans expect from the 6’5″, 230 lb. left-shot defenceman?
Plays with an edge
Before his trade request, Zadorov drilled Tyler Bertuzzi with a hit off a zone entry so good that one of Bertuzzi’s teammates told Zadorov that “[Zadorov] is exactly what we need.”
Unfortunately for the players at the center of the universe, they’ll have to wait until July at the latest to see if Zadorov can fill that void they so desperately need filling. That depends on whether Allvin and Zadorov’s agent, Rick Dhaliwal Dan Milstein, decided to flesh out a contract extension before the season is through.
Since the 2021-22 season, Zadorov is 22nd out of 217 defencemen with more than 1,000 minutes played by hits per 60 minutes of ice-time. Hughes sits dead last. However, that propensity for violence does open up Zadorov to taking a lot of penalties. Since 2021-22, Zadorov is 36th among all skaters, with more than 1,000 minutes played by minor penalties taken per 60 minutes of ice time, taking an average of 1.29 minor penalties per 60 minutes of ice time across all situations.
If you’re like me and could care less about “penalty rates” and “penalty draw differential rates” because the bottom line is hits are cool and good. Here’s an eight-and-a-half-minute-long compilation of Zadorov’s physicality to help you forget boring statistics and satiate your thirst for carnage instead!
A net-positive at even-strength
The addition of Zadorov couldn’t have come at a better time. The Canucks were long overdue for a credible two-way defenceman to come and help alleviate the burden of ice time getting doled out to Quinn Hughes, Filip Hronek, Ian Cole, and Tyler Myers.
It’s no surprise that the Canucks have struggled in the 11 games that have been played after losing Carson Soucy to injury. Noah Juulsen, Mark Friedman, Akito Hirose, and Cole McWard have done an admirable job pinch-hitting for the club. But Carson Soucy gave the club big minutes on the penalty kill and production at 5-on-5, which neither of those four has been able to replicate collectively.
Carson Soucy was on pace for 11 goals and 16 assists. Juulsen, Friedman, Hirose, and McWard are on pace for 10 points collectively.
Since Soucy’s injury, Quinn Hughes and Filip Hronek’s minutes have steadily climbed into the 25+ minute range, while Ian Cole and Tyler Myers have eclipsed the 21+ minute marker. Meanwhile, the depth pieces like McWard and Hirose have not endeared themselves to Tocchet during the teams’ struggles, with both failing to play more than 12 minutes.
Lack of ice time was a driving force behind Zadorov’s request for a change of scenery. He’s bound to get it the second he puts on the jersey.
During the Flames’ last good year with Darryl Sutter, Zadorov net a career-high of 14 goals. The bulk of his goals came off the rush or from his howitzer of a one-timer from the point, a weapon the Canucks have sorely missed since Soucy went down.
Though he shouldn’t be relied upon to be an elite puck carrier from the d-zone, he can undoubtedly be leaned upon to use his plus-skating to activate on the rush for scoring opportunities.
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Zadorov moves exceptionally well and, despite being such a gigantic human being, is highly adept at avoiding getting picked up while sneaking down the wings for scoring chances. The Canucks love cross-ice plays, and Zadorov will likely feast if Vancouver’s forward group can spot him activating below the hash marks.
On top of being one of the few Russian players to condemn his home country’s invasion of Ukraine. Zadorov has worn apparel in support of his club’s Pride night initiatives without issue.
He could revitalize the Vancouver Canucks Fight Club
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Zadorov is a total unicorn. On top of being physical, he isn’t afraid of tossing the gloves to back up his crushing physical play.
According to HockeyFights, Zadorov has 10 fights since the 2018-19 season.
Ironically, in his first full NHL season with the Buffalo Sabres, Zadorov’s first fight came against his future Colorado Avalanche teammate and now-current Canucks teammate and potential d-partner, Ian Cole.
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It’s impossible not to like what the Canucks have in Zadorov, especially at such a comically low price. Ignoring the opportunity cost of taking Beauvillier back in the Bo Horvat trade, Allvin turning an expensive one-dimensional winger into a bizarrely quick, 6’5″ behemoth on skates who can play tough minutes, throw hits, and score is what they call a tidy bit of business!
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