Dadonov Could Seek Contract Termination

By JD Lagrange – There is something fishy in this whole Evgenii Dadonov situation. For one thing, it is doubtful that the Canadiens wanted the Russian winger but that was the price to pay when they traded Shea Weber’s contract to the Vegas Golden Knights in the off-season. From the start, it didn’t seem to be a good fit as Dadonov had already nipped a trade to Anaheim at trade deadline last season, since the Ducks were on his no-trade list. Seeing Vegas trade him again, to a team that had finished dead last, was unlikely to sit well with him.

The 33 year-old winger has played eight games so far this season and has yet to get a single point. He averages 13:29 of ice time per game. Only Jake Evans, Rem Pitlick, Michael Pezzetta and Juraj Slafkovsky average less ice time amongst forwards on the Canadiens. His minus -3 is third worse on the team (amongst forwards) but Brendan Gallagher and Jonathan Drouin (-4) have points.

Dadonov played anywhere in the line-up from top-6 to third and fourth line, where he was before being made a healthy scratch for the game in St. Louis on October 29th. The next day, he wasn’t at practice, reportedly by the team as a “therapy day”, and the next day for the same reason. Pushed to know more from reporters, head coach Martin St-Louis lost patience with the questions, visibly irritated by the situation.

St-Louis loses patience at the 2:30 mark

Then, TVA Sports reporter Marc-André Perreault learned that the day before being a healthy scratch (Friday), Dadonov’s agent spoke to Kent Hughes about his client’s ice time. There were rumours circulating to the effect that the Russian player went over St-Louis’ head and complained of his utilization to Hughes directly. Perreault bumped into the Canadiens’ GM and got some clarifications. We learned that Hughes is the one who went and spoke to Dadonov, and not the other way around. According to Hughes (through Perreault), Dadonov never pouted, suffered from a virus which his son had and so do several people. It was apparently the “perfect storm”. Then comes the news that he is placed on the injured reserve…

Potential solution

No matter what the organization releases to the media, it is evident that the Canadiens have a problem. The perfect storm might just include the not-so perfect cover job in a less than perfect situation. Call it gut feeling, or experience, more often than not, where there is smoke, there is fire… at least from my five decades of life experience.

The Canadiens have too many forwards, and they will need to make a decision about Juraj Slafkovsky, who averages only 11:02 minutes per game and only played 8:08 in the last game in Winnipeg. But that’s for another article.

In order to accommodate a disgruntled player and a team with too many forwards, tight against the salary cap, the CBA might just have a solution that would be good for both parties. There is a clause in the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) which allows teams and players to terminate their contract. Two conditions must be met in order to accomplish that.

  1. It has to be a mutual decision between the player and the team, and
  2. The player must clear unconditional waivers

According to Pierre LeBrun, Kent Hughes has contacted many teams around the NHL to address his surplus of forwards. But how do you trade a Dadonov with no points? Or unproductive Jonathan Drouin or Mike Hoffman? Teams don’t want unproductive, overpaid players and when they do, they expect to receive a premium to take them on. That’s how Dadonov got to Montreal in the first place.

So time will tell what happens in this case but if I were a betting man, I’d say that Dadonov’s time with the Habs will have been very short lived. Expect him gone, one way or another, in the next few days, perhaps hours. And the waiver wire might be the next news we get on him.

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“The Rebuild Was Last Year” – Edmundson

By JD Lagrange – Fans and media alike may feel like the Canadiens are a few years away from competing again, but don’t tell that to the players, coaches and management of the team. In unison, they believe the playoffs are closer than everyone thinks and they won’t be dissuaded.

At the annual golf tournament yesterday, the Canadiens announced Nick Suzuki as the captain and players were interviewed on different topics. One of those topics was about how competitive players fell the team will be this upcoming season and you will be hard-pressed to find a single member of the Canadiens feeling as negative as some of the fans.

Newly appointed alternate-captain and Stanley Cup champion Joel Edmundson sings a similar song former GM Marc Bergevin was telling everyone who would listen.

“There will be no excuses if we miss the playoffs. We are thinking playoffs and then, everything is possible. We don’t see this as a rebuild”, added the veteran defenseman. “I think that we will surprise a lot of people. Many players arrived to town several weeks prior to camp, we feel the enthusiasm in the dressing room. Last year was the first step. We have things to prove, we want to play in the playoffs.”

Brendan Gallagher, Nick Suzuki and Joel Edmundson

His teammates feel the same way.

We will have our challenges, but we will be taking a step forward this year, and another one the following season”, predicted Jake Allen.

“People can think what they want. The guys in the dressing room know what we can do”, added Cole Caufield. “We will believe in our abilities, hope to have a good start to the season and we shall see what happens.”

And what about head coach Martin St-Louis?

“I don’t know if we’re rebuilding or not. The expectations can change throughout the year”, reminded St-Louis who doesn’t want to qualify what the team is doing in one word. “Perhaps in two or three months, we’ll have a better idea where we are”, wisely added the Habs’ coach.

Against all odds

The odds of making the playoffs are certainly against the Canadiens. But never say never. Since the last lockout, only two teams have finished last one season and bounce back right into the playoffs the following season: Toronto did it in 2016-17 and Colorado the following season.

SEASONTEAMW%FOLLOWING
SEASON
RANK
2012-13.375.40229/30
2013-14.317.32930/30
2014-15.329.49423/30
2015-16.421.57914/30
2016-17.293.57917/30
2017-18.378.46327/31
2018-19.390.43730/31
2019-20.275.42927/31
2020-21.330.45724/31
2021-22.335??/32

When the Maple Leafs did it, they had Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner. When the Avalanche did the same, they had Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen.

With that said, the Canadiens had two short seasons due to COVID, the worse schedule of all teams, several long term injuries to key players, crushed the man-games lost record by a wide margin. They also had a very short rest due to their Stanley Cup finals surprise push, only to lose to a team $18 million over the cap.

This time, they have benefited from a normal, even long summer to recharge their energy, train properly and prepare for this season. Further, many players will be looking at redemption and some new faces will try to impress. They will have to do all of this without Carey Price, however…

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