Nikita Zadorov, the Most Impactful ‘New’ Canuck

By: Brayden Fengler / March 15, 2024  

The Canucks did not make any major moves at the trade deadline. The team’s most recent big-ticket acquisition in Elias Lindholm has to this point not panned out exactly how the Canucks likely would’ve hoped since he joined the team in early February.

Nikita Zadorov on the other hand, acquired by the Canucks in November of last year, has now played the bulk of this NHL season with the club and has continued to make a substantial impact on the team.

Zadorov to Vancouver

Zadorov was traded to Vancouver from the Calgary Flames in late November off of the back of two separate deals that the Canucks made.

The Canucks first traded Anthony Beauvillier to Chicago on November 28th, in exchange for a 2024 5th-round pick. Two days later the Canucks sent this pick, along with their own 2026 3rd round pick to Calgary in exchange for Zadorov.

Zadorov’s cap hit is $3.75M, compared to Beauvillier’s $4.15M. so when all was said and done the Canucks essentially traded Beauvillier and a 3rd round pick for Zadorov, while knocking a cool $400,000 off of their books.

Performance Since Joining the Canucks

Zadorov has now played an even 40 total games for the Canucks this season. In this time, Zadorov has put up three goals and seven assists. But it’s not Zadorov’s offensive capabilities that have made him a good fit for the Canucks this season, it’s his physical stature and shutdown game that has meshed well with this year’s Canucks team.

Zadorov has found himself playing just over 17 minutes a night on average, on either the second or third pairing, mostly with either Tyler Myers or Noah Juulsen. He has logged over 200 minutes of playtime with each of Myers and Juulsen.

Recently Juulsen has been Zadorov’s consistent partner in crime, with their play together looking like a better fit than the towering line of Zadorov plus Myers. While both sets of lines allowed their forwards to produce around the same number of shot attempts, the Myers-Zadorov line opened the door more for the attacking team.

While playing with Juulsen the Corsi For % for Zadorov is 7% better than that of his time playing with Tyler Myers.

In terms of Zadorov’s physical play, he is beaten out by the number of hits among Canucks defensemen only by his linemate Juulsen. This no doubt has attributed to the ability of that line to improve their Corsi percentage, as it’s hard for any team to get shots off when they’re up against the duelling forces of their opponent’s biggest bruisers.

Overall to this point in the season, Zadorov seems to be meshing on the ice, among fans and with the media alike.

Recent Play by Zadorov

In looking at Zadorov’s recent run of games, the 28-year-old Russian-born player has been more effective than ever for the Canucks. Within his last 10 games, Zadorov has scored two goals and helped with three assists. This accounts for half of his production on the Canucks this season, in just the last 10 games alone.

Zadorov has also continued to show that he is unafraid to drop the gloves as well. Although his fight against Josh Manson the other night against the Avalanche will not make its way to Zadorov’s personal highlight reel, it stands of an example of Zadorov’s willingness to stick up for himself and his team when needed.

A larger physical presence is something Vancouver has been lacking over the last few years. The team has built a strong foundation of young talented players with speed. The other side of that coin has seen less success in finding competent players who are physical without being a liability.

Zadorov currently sits with 73 penalty minutes on the year, 11 of which he has earned in the last 10 games. This total beats out Tyler Myers in the two spot with 63 minutes. While having a player sit in the box is never the aim, the willingness of a player to make game-play decisions and put himself in situations that are necessary but may result in a trip to the sin bin, is vital, especially come playoffs as the games get more physical overall.

The Future of Zadorov

Zadorov is currently in the final year of a two-year contract that he signed in Calgary, at a $3.75M AAV. Zadorov is not going to be a cheap player if the Canucks were looking to re-sign him.

Zadorov plays a role largely built on intangibilities, but despite this, he possesses a lot of characteristics that teams often look for. As a result, he could likely fetch a respectable price if he were to find his way to the open market.

According to Rick Dhaliwal, there have not been any contract talks between Zadorov’s agent and the Canucks to this point. It remains to be seen if Zadorov’s impressive play as of late, makes him more intriguing to the Canucks, or if it puts Zadorov further outside of their price range.