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Flames Zadorov Trade No Shocker, But Poor Return from Canucks Is


Flames Zadorov Trade No Shocker, But Poor Return from Canucks Is NHL Trade Talk.

In what is being deemed by many as a poor return for a player that was coveted by multiple teams, the Calgary Flames got only two lower draft picks for a defenseman in Nikita Zadorov that will markedly improve the Vancouver Canucks blue line.

On Thursday, the Canucks acquired left-shot (although the word is he can play both sides) defenseman Nikita Zadorov from the Calgary Flames in exchange for a fifth-round pick in the 2024 NHL Entry Draft (acquired from the Chicago Blackhawks) and a third-round pick in 2026. Zadorov, who requested a trade almost three weeks ago, had been linked to several teams. One of them was the Canucks; however, the other teams included the Toronto Maple Leafs, New Jersey Devils, New York Islanders, and the Dallas Stars. In short, there were several interested suitors.

Related: Maple Leafs Had Trade Offer on Table For Nikita Zadorov

What Does Zadorov Bring to the Canucks?

Zadorov, a Russian defenseman in the final season of a two-year, $7.5-million deal, adds depth to the Canucks’ blue line. In 21 games with the Flames this season, he recorded six points while averaging 18:24 minutes per game. He plays in all situations. He also can play either side, which will provide the Canucks with options. As well, he comes at the right time, with Carson Soucy on injured reserve (IR). 

Zadorov traded to Canucks

He brings a bit of an offensive upside, but mostly physicality. Both are expected to become valuable assets for his new Canucks team – especially because Vancouver has playoff aspirations. The trade highlights the Canucks’ desire to bolster their defense for the ongoing season.

There Was No Reason for the Flames to Make a Quick Deal

The trade seems to be a good one for the Canucks. Not only does it come at the right time, but it addressed the Canucks need to add physicality to their roster. The surprise was that the Flames didn’t get that much in return for the huge defenseman. I was surprised that the Flames didn’t get at least a couple of second-round draft picks. Perhaps it was because the Canucks didn’t ask the Flames to retain any salary. Darren Dreger writes, “A number of teams expressed interest in Zadorov. They all needed Calgary to retain and the Flames weren’t interested in doing that. Perhaps, waiting longer could have driven the return up to a 2nd, but cap flexibility is valuable as well.”

Related: Flames Trade Nikita Zadorov to Canucks for Picks

One reason I expected more for Zadorov was that the Canucks needed the trade, but the Flames were in a position of power. They were not completely out of the playoffs and I expected them to be more hesitant to part ways with Zadorov for several reasons. First, his defensive skills would have contributed to the Flames’ ability to win games. Although they are below .500 at the moment, they are not out of the playoffs in the Western Conference. If they played well, there is a good chance they could make a play in the wild-card race. I expected the Flames not to trade him unless they received a substantial return. I don’t view this return as substantial.

Flames Could Have Waited to Avoid Poor Return in Zadorov Trade

I also expected the Flames’ management to be focused on their team’s playoff aspirations and to adopt more of a wait-and-see approach. There was no reason – except for a great return – for the Flames not to have waited until closer to the NHL trade deadline. That’s still a few months away on March 8. They had plenty of time to assess their standings and make more informed decisions. 

In short, the Flames held the leverage. However, they didn’t wait to assess their playoff potential before making this move. The Flames were in a position to make decisions based on their competitive standing, but they didn’t. The Flames held the upper hand, but I don’t believe they used it in this deal.

The Bottom Line Is That Zadorov Answers a Need for the Canucks

The Canucks’ trade for Zadorov addresses a crucial need for the team. He adds some muscle to a club that only was getting regular physical play from depth forward Dakota Joshua. Zadorov’s physicality will help. The Canucks have been vulnerable against opponents who tried to take advantage of the team’s lack of a physically imposing presence. The Canucks lack a physical presence that helps them enforce their will in physical aspects of the game.

Dakota Joshua Canucks
Dakota Joshua, Canucks

They needed another player who played an “enforcer-type” role who would provide support for Joshua, who alone was not likely to be sufficient to deter opponents from taking liberties on the ice. The opposition was aware that the Canucks were limited in their ability to physically retaliate when they targeted a key player like Elias Pettersson.

By acquiring Zadorov, who’s a defenseman known for his physical play, the Canucks took a step toward addressing a strategic need. His presence should make opponents think twice before taking liberties on the ice. The trade helps the Canucks become stronger and more resilient. Both are crucial elements for sustained success throughout the season.

It was a tidy bit of work by Vancouver this week. Surrendering only a 3rd and 5th-round pick makes the trade a clear victory for them. They skillfully capitalized on the situation in Chicago, recognizing the Blackhawk’s need for a player (especially after the Corey Perry situation) and leveraged it to their advantage. Additionally, the move to trade Anthony Beauvillier allowed Vancouver to free up some much-needed cash. Notably, few other competitive teams had the necessary cap space to acquire Zadorov without requiring Calgary to retain some of the salary. It’s a strategic move that not only strengthens Vancouver’s roster but also demonstrates their adept maneuvering within the constraints of the salary cap landscape.

Related: Crunch Time: Canucks Need to Add Muscle for Joshua’s Sake

Flames Zadorov Trade No Shocker, But Poor Return from Canucks Is NHL Trade Talk.

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