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.
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…
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.
- It has to be a mutual decision between the player and the team, and
- 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.