The National Hockey League has found itself in the middle of an absurd situation involving the Vegas Golden Knights, the Anaheim Ducks and the Ottawa Senators.
You may have heard of the three-way deal that turned heads on Monday as part of the NHL’s Trade Deadline day. Right, the Max Dome trade between the Carolina Hurricanes, Columbus Blue Jackets and the Florida Panthers.
And no, it did not involve the Knights, Ducks and Senators. These three teams continue to feel the shame of a botched trade, or a deal gone wrong.
With Monday’s 3:00 PM EST deadline fast approaching, news broke that Vegas had dealt one of its forwards, Evgenii Dadonov to Anaheim in a salary dump. Officially, the trade read Dadonov and a conditional 2024 second round pick to Anaheim, while defenceman John Moore and the Ryan Kesler contract went to Vegas for its long-term injured reserve.
Although rumblings of this deal began midway through the day, the deal, however, did not officially process through the league’s trade centre until late evening on Monday. And even then, things were not as clear as they seemed.
“The National Hockey League announced today that it has invalidated Monday’s trade of player Evgenii Dadonov from Vegas to Anaheim,” the NHL wrote in a statement released on Wednesday. “The trade could not be concluded because Dadonov’s contract includes a limited no-trade clause, which has not been complied with.”
Apparently unbeknownst to the Golden Knights, Dadonov had a modified 10-team no-trade list as part of his contract signed with the Ottawa Senators back in October of 2020. Within the list of 10 teams was the Anaheim Ducks. According to reports, this information was not passed along to the Golden Knights when GM Kelly McCrimmon and Co. added the Russian forward via trade in late-July of 2021.
I’m terms of where the finger should be pointed in the Evgenii Dadonov case, league sources say the blame rests on the shoulders of the Ottawa Senators.
— Andy Strickland (@andystrickland) March 23, 2022
How this could happen? Well, from all accounts, it appears as though the Senators did not send over the list documenting Dadonov’s limited No Movement Clause to Vegas when the teams corroborated for their summer trade. Despite the NMC being listed literally everywhere (see CapFriendly for more), Vegas went ahead with the deadline day deal that which they essentially needed to complete in order to clear up some salary for a late-season playoff push.
“We respect and accept the decision made today by the NHL with regard to our trade with Vegas on Monday,” Ducks’ GM Pat Verbeek said. “Evgenii Dadonov is a player we thought could help our team this year and beyond. We will move forward and welcome John Moore to our organization once he’s healthy and ready to return.”
Currently on the outside of the playoff picture looking in, the Golden Knights have lost seven-straight road games in regulation and have slipped out of the final Western Conference wild card spot. The team has been without starting goaltender Robin Lehner, key forwards Mark Stone, Max Pacioretty and Reilly Smith, as well as defencemen Brayden McNabb, Alec Martinez, Nic Hague and Zach Whitecloud for a significant period of time.
Oh right, and Dadonov had been sitting in limbo while the NHL and the Players’ Association determined which club he was official property of.
The Vegas Golden Knights recognize the league’s decision and welcome Evgenii back to our club. #VegasBorn
— Vegas Golden Knights (@GoldenKnights) March 23, 2022
Using an American Hockey League heavy roster as of late, the Knights will need to clear a considerable amount of cap space in order to bring back any of their injured players for the stretch run. Making trades is not out of the question, but any trade involving a player following the league’s March 21 cut-off would mean the play in question is no longer eligible to participate in regular season or postseason play for the remainder of the season.
Should Vegas consider dumping salary, Dadonov would be a likely candidate as his contract carries a sizeable $5 million annual average value. This would mean that he would not be allowed to play for his new team this year, thus punishing a player who essentially did nothing wrong. The receiving club would likely demand a first round pick+ in its return for taking on dead weight. This would open up some room on Vegas’ roster for a player (or possibly two) to return from the injured reserve.
The other option for McKrimmon is to hope his youthful squad can pull up its socks and put together a strong 17+ remaining games so that it earns a berth in the playoffs. Opting to go the Tampa Bay Lightning route – to which injured players miraculously return just in time for the postseason (where the salary cap is irrelevant) – the Golden Knights would be able to bring the key missing pieces back into the lineup. This would, however, involve some serious work from the players making up the current roster.
Whether Vegas decides to sacrifice its future by trading away draft picks to shed salary in the hopes of qualifying for the playoffs, or roll with its current staff and hope for the best in order to bring its stars back for playoffs, the next few days will be critical. Failure to make moves immediately would see the Golden Knights continue their fall from playoff contention, while standing pat is likely an end to the team’s four-year streak of qualifying for the postseason since it entered the league in 2018.
Either way, the official ruling is correct, but the process leading up to the decision has been as messy as ever. Dadonov will return to Vegas’ lineup on Thursday evening. He will speak to the media following the game. What a treat that will be.