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Zadorov to test free-agent market: Canucks GM

Nikita Zadorov Vancouver Canucks Nikita Zadorov - The Canadian Press

Vancouver Canucks defenceman Nikita Zadorov appears to be headed to the free agent market.

The team has been trying to reach a new deal with the bruising Russian blue liner since the end of the season, but have reached an impasse, Canucks general manager Patrik Allvin said Friday.

“I can’t overpay one single player," he said. "And Nikita Zadorov was extremely good for us in the playoffs and a character guy. We did our best and he decided he wanted to go somewhere else.”

The NHL's free agency period begins Monday.

Vancouver acquired Zadorov from the Flames on Nov. 30, sending Calgary a fifth-round pick in this year’s draft and a third-round selection in 2026 in exchange.

The 29-year-old defenceman contributed five goals and nine assists across 54 regular-season games for Vancouver, then added another four goals, four assists in 13 playoff appearances.

Drafted 16th overall by Buffalo in 2013, Zadorov has played for the Canucks, Flames, Sabres, Chicago Blackhawks and Colorado Avalanche over 11 seasons. He has 47 goals and 99 assists in 642 games.

His current contract carries an average-annual value of $3.75 million.

“For us, it’s just not about each individual. It’s about getting a team that’s competitive and fitting the puzzles in," Allvin said. "We did our best and we can’t go any further.”

Allvin and his staff have been busy in recent days, inking three pending unrestricted free agents to new deals and moving another player to open up cap space.

Vancouver agreed to a two-year, US$3.6 million contract with depth forward Teddy Blueger on Wednesday, then shipped winger Ilya Mikheyev to the Chicago Blackhawks in a separate transaction later in the day.

On Thursday, the Canucks signed veteran defenceman Tyler Myers to a three-year contract with an average-annual value of $3 million and big winger Dakota Joshua to a four-year deal with a $3.25 million AAV.

Re-signing players from last year's squad was important to Vancouver's coaching staff, Allvin said.

"We want players that are committed and want to be part of a winning team and a winning culture," the GM said.

Vancouver is expected to be one of the teams looking to add a big name to its roster in free agency on Monday.

In addition to losing Zadorov, the Canucks also appear poised to part ways with Elias Lindholm.

Vancouver acquired the 29-year-old Swedish centre in a blockbuster deal with the Flames on Jan. 31. The trade saw Vancouver send Calgary forward Andrei Kuzmenko, prospects Hunter Brzustewicz and Joni Jurmo, and a first-round pick in this year’s draft.

Lindholm struggled to find his offensive touch after the trade, putting up just six points and six assists in 26 regular-season appearances for Vancouver, but came alive in the playoffs where he scored five goals and five assists in 13 games.

Allvin was coy, however, when asked on Friday exactly what position he's looking to fill.

"We’ve all seen lists of players potentially hitting the market, but they might be just a phone call away from signing with their clubs and they’re off that list," he said. "So definitely looking at options to improve our team and get better.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 28, 2024.