Nobody expected this move from the Ottawa Senators, when they signed Evgenii Dadonov last week. After all the Sens are rebuilding through the draft and have done some great selections at this year’s draft. We can sense from the Dadonov signing the Sens wants to win now in what could be a short season in all-Canadian division, based on the latest rumors. Pierre Dorion has a plan for this upcoming season and few saw it coming. Needless to say the future looks bright in Ottawa.
Today Evgenii ‘Daddy’ Dadonov spoke to reporters via Zoom for the first time since signing his 3-year contract with an AAV of 5 million. The 31 years-old Dadonov is an offensive threat and was considered along with teammate and ex-Senator Mike Hoffman one of the best offensive forward available on the market this off-season.
The one they call “Daddy”, short for Dadonov, thanks to Bob Boughner in Florida was very enthusiastic in his media appearance as a Senators.
Dadonov an offensive threat and a mentor
“They told me I would have a good role on the team because there’s not a lot of veterans on the team,” Dadonov said. “It’s time for me to step up, as one of the most experienced guys on the team. I’m ready for that.”
In his quest to a new contract as an unrestricted free agent, Dadonov, said he spoke to six or seven NHL teams. He finally settled on the Senators because he saw a team on the rise with tremendous opportunities.
“I’m really excited to play for this team,” he said. “It wasn’t a decision made because of the contract — I hope this team is going to have success and be in the race for the Cup for the next few years.”
He also mentioned that the Ottawa Senators have two young superstars in Thomas Chabot and Brady Tkachuk. Many are seeing Dadonov on the top line alongside Tkachuk and Josh Norris and a key element of Ottawa’s power play. When asked about it, dadonov was not concerned who his linemates were going to be.
“Tkachuk is a good player, a powerful forward,” Dadonov says. “There’s a lot of good young guys. I spoke to the coach and GM and they told me Norris played well in the minors last year, scores a lot of goals, is pretty skilled and a good player.
“I know Tim Stuetzle who was drafted third overall, he’s supposed to be very good, talented. “There are high skilled players. The team has talent.”
With all the talent being assembled in Ottawa, the addition of Dadonov presents coach Smith with some nice options.
“I can play with anybody,” Dadonov said. “I don’t want to say ‘I want to play with this guy or that guy.’ It’s going to be the coach’s decision.”
What is Dadonov’s style of play
When asked about the Russian’s GM Pierre Dorion and head coach D.J. Smith stated he is an up tempo with a strong forecheck type of player with a flair for scoring off the wing on the power play. His additions will support the departures of forward Anthony Duclair and veteran Bobby Ryan. He has a quick release and a hard shot.
“We know he’ll be on the first power play, because he’s got a proven track record on the power play,” Dorion said. In fact, nearly half of Dadonov’s 25 goals came with the man advantage (11).
In his virtual press conference, Dadonov mentioned he had the opportunity to speak to some of the players currently on the roster. He was given positive vibes about the city and the organization while saying he also communicated with Russian native on the team such as Nikita Zaitsev and Artem Anisimov. Dadonov said he has trained during the off-season for the last couple years with with Senators prospect Vitaly Abramov.
Evgenii Dadonov was a third round draft pick (71st overall) of the Florida Panthers in 2007. His arrival in the NHL took years before he could establish himself. His NHL start was preceded by a five-year stint in the KHL ranging from 2012 to 2017. but that also means he doesn’t have as many hard miles on his body as some 31-year-olds in the NHL.
Dadonov spent five years in the KHL from 2012-2017 before growing into the scorer he would become at the NHL level. When he arrived with the Panthers in 2017, Dadonov established himself as a scoring forward playing in all games except 8 games of the Panthers’ 233 games. With Florida, he scored 81 goals assisted on 101 of them for 182 points.
When asked what he can bring to the Ottawa Senators, Dadonov responded:
“I hope I can bring a lot,” he said, “especially the attitude I have — to work hard, practice and play hard. And I hope I bring more skill to the team. “I’m going to try to do my best. I hope the team is going to step up.”
And finally, when asked if he doesn’t mind playing in Ottawa a Canadian market, Dadonov replied:
“No big deal, I love to play hockey, it doesn’t matter where — in Canada, Florida or Russia.”
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