Circumstances dictate that the Ottawa Senators are, at current moment, one of the most desirable locations for the few free agents still looking for a payday and a place to call home.
And it seems the club is taking advantage of it.
Ottawa carved out another section of its seemingly bountiful supply of cap space on Thursday afternoon, signing three-time 25-goal scorer with the Florida Panthers, Evgenii Dadonov, to a three-year deal. The backloaded contract is worth $15 million total, and will pay the reliably productive right winger a highly reasonable $5 million on an annual basis.
While Dadonov will lag behind several Senators in terms of real-dollar earnings next season — the Senators will dole out only $3.5 million in the first year — he will have the highest cap hit among forwards barring another free-agent splash, while trailing only Thomas Chabot and Matt Murray in terms of average annual value.
In Ottawa, Dadonov might not be surrounded by quite the same talent he had in Florida, but he will have the opportunity to build on the productive start to his NHL career as one of the top options up front for the reloading Senators. Every expectation should be that he starts opposite Brady Tkachuk to form an intriguing offensive partnership on Ottawa’s No. 1 line on opening night.
As one of the most unheralded point producers in the NHL, Dadonov, 31, scored 81 goals and 101 assists in three seasons since returning to the NHL. He spent five of his prime seasons racking up production in the KHL after failing to catch on originally with the Panthers in his first stint with the organization.
An unquestionably solid buy from the Senators, Dadonov is a top 50 scorer in the NHL over the last three seasons, matching former MVP Taylor Hall with his 182 points. He also finished with very strong underlying numbers, especially compared to his Panthers teammates, but his base impact will be tested while separated from his most common linemate over the last three seasons, two-way star Aleksander Barkov.
Dadonov might be the most impressive, if not the most economical, add this offseason for the Senators, who have taken some considerable steps forward over the last few weeks, beginning with their hugely important draft-night haul.
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