Photo credit:Steve Roberts-USA TODAY Sports
‘I wanted to stay there, but I did not get an offer’: Nikita Zadorov on his exit from the Calgary Flames
By Ryan Pike2 months ago
The Calgary Flames began the 2023 off-season with seven major pending unrestricted free agents. Since then, a few names have been crossed off that list by general manager Craig Conroy. Tyler Toffoli was traded to New Jersey. Mikael Backlund was signed to an extension. Most recently, pending UFA blueliner Nikita Zadorov requested a trade and soon found himself in Vancouver.
Zadorov recently joined former teammate John Scott on the Dropping the Gloves podcast to discuss many topics, including his departure from Calgary.
Here’s what Zadorov said about the circumstances of his trade request (and eventual trade away from the Flames):
“I wanted to stay there, but I did not get an offer… But everybody else did get offers, all the other UFA. So by that time, I think it was time to move in because we knew there were other teams that were super interesting.”
Now, let’s build in some context and take a look at what Zadorov said critically. Notably, this is a player’s perspective on negotiations that likely went on through his agent, and to paraphrase what Zadorov said himself in the interview, there’s some stuff we don’t know – and probably won’t know – about how everything went down. (And that’s probably something to bear in mind in all directions.) When a player comments on contract negotiations, it’s always a smart move to take what they say with a grain of salt.
In terms of the Flames’ priorities since Conroy ascended to the GM’s chair it would make sense if their primary targets when it came to their pending UFAs were the proverbial big three: de facto (at the time) captain Mikael Backlund, first-line centre Elias Lindholm and first-pairing defenceman Noah Hanifin. Between intangibles and pure financial calculations, those guys needed to be figured out first.
We can’t assess Zadorov’s claim that “everybody else” got offers because all we know is what’s filtered through our insider pals. We do know that back in November in 32 Thoughts, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman noted that “there was at least one offer exchanged with Chris Tanev, but things weren’t close.” There have been multiple reports of them having talks with Lindholm and Hanifin. And Backlund obviously re-signed.
Would it make sense that the Flames would prioritize the “big three” over Zadorov? Sure. And potentially heart-and-soul defensive defender Chris Tanev? That would also make sense, as his shutdown prowess is something that is extremely rare within the Flames’ system.
Given Zadorov’s relative placement in the pecking order, it would make sense if the Flames were prioritizing other moves ahead of him. And this situation unfolds a couple seasons after Zadorov noted (in his chat on the podcast) that he had to wait for the Flames to figure out Johnny Gaudreau’s (and Matthew Tkachuk’s) situation before his contract could get dealt with. Considering this could be Zadorov’s last chance in his NHL career to cash in with a big contract, his desire to be somewhere he felt he could be showcased makes some sense.
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