Why Evgenii Dadonov could bring what Golden Knights need most even after off year in Ottawa

In the midst of Wednesday’s free agency chaos, Evgenii Dadonov looked down at his phone, surprised to see an incoming call from Ottawa Senators general manager Pierre Dorion.

“He called me and said ‘We traded you,’” Dadonov recalled. “My first reaction (in my head) was, ‘Which team? Which team?’”

Dorion informed Dadonov that he had been dealt to the Vegas Golden Knights, only nine months after he signed a three-year, $15 million contract with the Senators. It was a rough debut season in Ottawa for Dadonov, both on and off the ice.

Dadonov’s point total dropped from 70 two years ago to 47 in his final season in Florida to only 20 points in 55 games with the Senators. The power play production that defined his game as a Panthers player evaporated in Ottawa, with only one point this season with the man advantage.

Away from the rink Dadonov dealt with the same intense COVID-19 guidelines that every player went through, but did so isolated from his family and friends in another country. His wife, Anna, was pregnant with their third child during the season, and neither she nor Dadonov’s two sons joined him in Ottawa.

“I’m not going to give any excuses about my game, but it was a tough time without the family,” Dadonov said Thursday. “Especially in Canada where I was quarantined almost all year. I just went to my apartment and the rink. Those are the two places I went. The year was hard, but it was hard for everybody.”

Dadonov’s accountability is admirable, but there’s no denying the extenuating circumstances of the pandemic have impacted everyone.


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