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Vancouver Canucks 2024 Free Agents: Nikita Zadorov – Hockey Writers – Vancouver Canucks

Vancouver Canucks general manager Patrik Allvin has a lot of work to do this summer. Coming off a season that saw his team far exceed expectations and win the Pacific Division with a 50-23-9 record, he will want to bring back the same or improved program next season. His work is limited for him in that case by 12 free agents (nine unrestricted and three restricted) he must decide to re-sign or not. In this series, we’ll take a look at each of them, how their season went and whether the Canucks can and should bring them back in 2024-25.

We will start with the big man, the one they call “Big Z”, Nikita Zadorov. Allvin was acquired from the Calgary Flames with a few draft picks in November and finished the season with five goals and 14 points in 54 games, along with 102 penalty minutes and 124 shots. He was a huge presence on the blue line and eventually became a fan favorite for his personality on and off the ice. He will become a free agent on July 1, and may need more money to re-sign.

Related: Elias Pettersson’s Hidden Injuries & Canucks’ Playoff Exit

In his postseason press release, Zadorov expressed a desire to return to Vancouver and even shot down reports of how much he wanted, firing Edmonton writers in the process. It remains to be seen if Allvin and his agent, Dan Milstein, will reach the right deal, but it’s clear he loved his time on the West Coast and would like to return.

Zadorov Brought Body, Personality and a Strong Presence to the Blue Line

Allvin brought in Zadorov to add size and physicality to the Canucks’ blue line. He did just that. With a tendency to hit hard and often, he sent opponents flying with Richter-rated hits multiple times and was steady alongside Tyler Myers, Noah Juulsen and Ian Cole. As mentioned in the post, he also added to the offense with five goals and 14 points. But his biggest contribution came on the defensive end with his long reach and ability to close gaps quickly and efficiently. He helped solidify the defense and arguably made it one of the best in the league when healthy.

Nikita Zadorov, Vancouver Canucks (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images)

Zadorov’s presence was felt not only on the ice, but also in the dressing room and in the interviews. With a Kevin Bieksa-like personality when he was with the Canucks in the 2010s, his sense of humor brought a spark to a team that had been missing for a long time. And like Bieksa, he endeared himself to fans and his head coach with his willingness to stand up for his teammates when the other team took a free or threw a dirty shot.

“I like his personality. It’s just what the doctor ordered, as in the drawing room, for me. He’s on his game, but I think his personality has a little bit of that old school feel to it. He has a wit about him, but he’s also not afraid to tweet at someone on the other team. He is like a loose cannon at times. It’s okay to have those guys on the ice, right? They raised the heads of the people. But he knows he has to be careful.”

– Canucks coach Rick Tocchet

Zadorov was not only a big body out there, but he could move the puck and make a good pass first in his position. Not to mention his amazing ability to get shots from the left post and range. In fact, according to NHL Edge, 30 of his 90 shots and three of his goals in the regular season came from the upper left corner of the ice. It was the same in the playoffs, as 11 of his 20 shots and two of his goals came from that spot as well. All in all, he was just what the doctor ordered for the Canucks when Allvin acquired him from the Flames; a mobile, physical force that made a difference on the blue line and solidified the backbone of the defense in the playoffs.

Zadorov was arguably the MVP of the Canucks in the Playoffs

Zadorov was added with the playoffs in mind as his style is what the postseason is, a battle. Physical strength, toughness and just being a pain to play against is what the big Russian brings to the table every night. That’s exactly what he brought to the postseason from Game 1 against the Nashville Predators to Game 7 against the Edmonton Oilers. Not only did he throw his weight around for 45 hits and get under the skin of players like Evander Kane, but he also delivered an incredible amount of offense and clutch goals.

It was as if Zadorov had been driving Bieksa since 2011. Meanwhile, the Hockey Night Canada commentator scored arguably one of the greatest goals in Canucks history when he blasted the puck out of the penalty area to send the Canucks to the Stanley Cup finals. . Although Zadorov’s goals have been elusive, and the team did not reach the finals this year, many of his goals were scored at key moments in the game – including one that almost sent them into the second round and another that ended. return against the Oilers in Game 1. Bieksa was again dominant offensively and physically with five goals, 10 points and 81 hits, while Zadorov finished with four goals, eight points and 45 hits .

In other words, Zadorov was one of the Canucks’ MVPs in the playoffs this year and cemented the fact that he should be back on the roster next season and beyond. Unfortunately, that also means he’ll be worth more money on the open market, which could complicate things for Allvin and company.

How Much Will It Cost to Bring Back Zadorov?

According to AFPAnalytics, Zadorov is expected to sign a five-year contract worth around $5.3 million in average annual value (AAV). If he were to sign that deal, that would put him second on the defensive line behind Quinn Hughes’ $7.85 million AAV and ahead of Carson Soucy’s $3.25 million AAV. To me, that sounds like a fair salary and amount of time for what he brings to the team. With his recent playoff performance, he and his agent have more characters in the talks, but judging by his comments to the media in his postseason release, he may take a discount to stay in Vancouver to continue that. he started.

Final Verdict: Canucks Should Re-Sign Zadorov

If the Canucks can find a way to work out a decent contract with Zadorov and put him under the cap, they should definitely bring him back next season. With only Hughes, Soucy, and Juulsen currently signed, he is a known asset that could help build the foundation of a defensive core heading into 2024-25. His character, physicality, mobility, and tough style of play against the whole seem to fit well with the system used by Adam Foote and the Canucks on the blue line, so if it makes sense financially, an extension should be signed sooner rather than later. Hopefully, fans will see that smiling face and pre-game entrance of the James Bond villain for years to come.

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