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A trade market is reportedly developing for Calgary Flames’ defender Nikita Zadorov

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Photo credit:Steve Roberts-USA TODAY Sports
Ryan Pike
6 months ago
Way, way back on Nov. 10, in the aftermath of a shootout loss in Toronto, ESPN’s Kevin Weekes reported that Calgary Flames blueliner Nikita Zadorov had requested a trade. (That report coincided with several tweets by Zadorov’s agent, Dan Milstein, expressing discontent with Zadorov’s usage in Calgary.)
Now, nearly three weeks after that reported request, Weekes is reporting that a trade market is developing for Zadorov’s services.
The 28-year-old Zadorov is in the final year of a two-year deal that carries a $3.75 million cap hit and, upon expiry on July 1, would make the Russian blueliner an unrestricted free agent. In 21 games this season, primarily playing on the third pairing, Zadorov has a goal and six points.
Assuming that the teams that Weekes threw out there are fairly accurate, here’s how they stack up (stick-taps to Cap Friendly for all the pertinent details):
  • The Islanders are currently in LTIR and have $3.975 million in cap space currently available. They control their first and second-round picks in 2024, their first three rounds worth of picks in 2025, and their first and third-round picks in 2026.
  • The Devils are under the cap, but can only add $2.118 million in cap hits at present. They currently control their first and third-round picks in 2024, and all three rounds worth of picks in 2025 and 2026. However, their 2024 first-round can’t be moved right now, as it’s tied up by conditions from the Timo Meier trade with San Jose. (If the Devils make the conference finals, San Jose gets their 2024 first-rounder instead of their 2024 second-rounder.)
  • The Stars are under the cap, but can only add $613,000 in cap hits at present. They currently control their first and second-round picks in 2024, their first and third-round picks in 2025, and all three rounds worth of picks in 2026. (But Dallas’ 2025 third-round is tied up with conditions stemming from the Nils Lundkvist trade with the Rangers so it can’t be moved.)
  • The Leafs are in LTIR and have $3.109 million in cap space currently available. The Leafs are lean on picks, controlling their own first and the Islanders’ third in 2024, their own third in 2025, and their own first and third in 2026.
  • The Canucks are in LTIR and have $5.731 million in cap space currently available following the Anthony Beauvillier trade to Chicago. The Canucks control their own first and third-rounders in 2024, first and second-rounders in 2025, and all three rounds of picks in 2026.
Right now, the big challenge for any Zadorov trade would be cap space. Aside from the two teams currently using LTIR – who would at some point need to figure out a way out of LTIR if they want to activate those injured players – everybody that Weekes cited as a suitor would need to send money back to the Flames to make the cap math work.
That’s not to say that the Flames wouldn’t be interested or wouldn’t conduct such a trade, but player-for-pick is fairly clean from a cap management standpoint for both teams, while more complicated swaps would be more complex to navigate and pull off.
We’ll see how things go. With the Flames currently a game below .500 at 9-10-3 and firmly sitting in the playoff picture, who knows if the Flames currently have an appetite to prioritize trades.
The Flames are back in action on Thursday when they host the Dallas Stars.

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