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Evgenii Dadonov
(Jeff Bottari/NHLI via Getty Images)

Evgenii Dadonov Stinks. Vegas Can’t Rely On Him.

Evgenii Dadonov
Evgenii Dadonov stinks and can’t be counted on. Dadonov has a huge opportunity playing next to Jack Eichel. Are we sure he deserves that chance? (Jeff Bottari/NHLI via Getty Images)

Evgenii Dadonov Stinks. Vegas Can’t Rely On Him.

Jack Eichel makes his Golden Knights debut today on National TV against the Colorado Avalanche. While Vegas is fired up about Eichel making his season debut, it also came at a cost. Mark Stone was place on LTIR and could be out for the remainder of the regular season. The Knights are projected to trot out a first line that includes Eichel, Max Pacioretty, and… Evgenii Dadonov?

We know that Pete DeBoer would prefer not to mess with the misfit line of Jonathan Marchessault, William Karlsson, and Reilly Smith. That trio has had great success and been together since the inception of the franchise. With Stoney out, Dadonov becomes the first line right winger.

Eichel will prove to be a franchise altering player for the Knights. He’s a true get you to the promise land type of guy with the right supporting cast around him. Stone likely will be okay to gut out the postseason despite a nagging back injury. In the meantime, Vegas is counting on Dadonov to provide real offense on that first line.

Dadonov, 32, is in the midst of his first season with Vegas. If the Golden Knights haven’t figured this out by now, they’re about to find out real soon. Dadonov stinks and absolutely can’t be counted on to be a real contributing player.

Dadonov is going to (or should) pick up points just from being on that top line and number one power play unit in Vegas. Dadonov doesn’t have to be much more than a bottle of wine with ice skates attached at the bottom to fall his way into points. The problem is Dadonov has already had plenty of opportunities to pick up points and hasn’t done so. Stone has missed more than a fair share of games prior to going on LTIR.

The former Senator and Panther has 21 points in 46 games for Vegas during the 2021-22 season. Not. Good. Enough. Especially when you consider the fact that Kelly McCrimmon dumped Marc-Andre Fluery in an attempt to create more offense (funny story. Fleury might be coming back?). Dadonov was part of that answer and has not delivered.

The underlying numbers for Dadonov aren’t terrible. In fact, they’re kind of encouraging. His Corsi and Fenwick numbers are basically identical (51.8 & 52.0). At the same time, Dadonov currently sports an on ice shooting percentage of 8.5 which would be a career low. Dadonov just doesn’t pass the smell test. Dadonov never gets a good shot on goal unless he’s set up perfectly.

We’re going to find out real quick what Dadonov is made of. If he can’t thrive on this first line next to Eichel, we have our answer. I know the Florida Panthers aren’t what they are now. However, in his last three years with Florida, Dadonov averaged 1.9, 1.8, and 1.6 fantasy points per game (Anything under 2 shouldn’t really be rosterable unless you’re in a deep league). Right now, Dadonov sports a pathetic 1.3 fantasy points per game and 4.74 fantasy points per 60 minutes. Gross.

My question is why even give Dadonov this opportunity? Chandler Stephenson has essentially been carrying this group offensively all season. He’s rarely had a healthy Stone or Pacioretty next to him either. Stephenson now sits on the third line after posting 38 points in 45 games. Doesn’t seem fair to me.

Of course, Stephenson is a natural centerman and we knew Eichel would push him down the pecking order. That was always the plan. I just don’t see where Dadonov deserves this opportunity? Why not Nolan Patrick?

Yes, I know, adding Patrick to that first line seems like a riskier proposition. Maybe it is. Patrick probably can be labeled a bust given the success that Cale Makar and Miro Heiskanen are having being picked immediately after Patrick. Then again, are we sure it’s really a risk?

If we accept the fact that Dadonov isn’t very good, why not put Patrick at the top as a way to spark his career? Patrick has been slotted in the fourth line right winger role under the new look Eichel Knights. That doesn’t really tell the story because Patrick is also practicing with the first line power play unit. It could be Vegas’ way of preparing Patrick for that role down the road.

Patrick looks like a chicken with his head cut off, but he isn’t untalented. The trade to Vegas served as a fresh start for Patrick. The former 2nd overall pick in 2017 hasn’t totally found his footing in Vegas but his underlying numbers have been really, really good.

Patrick is winning over 52% of his faceoffs. His Corsi and Fenwick numbers sit at 55.9 and 56.4 on the season. Patrick just needs more ice time and a way to build up his confidence. What better way to do so than by plugging him with Eichel and Pacioretty?

Maybe Dadonov is enough to get the job done. In reality, the guy just has to get out of the way and not screw things up. Stone will probably be back eventually. It just seems way more important to use this time to build up Patrick rather than hope and pray Dadonov can be functional. Maybe?

We’re going to find out real quick what Evgenii Dadonov is made of. It’s one thing to be a bum and stink it up on the third line. It’s go time now. We’re talking about a guy that carries a $5 million cap hit for this year and next year. He’s not worth two pennies right now. Go prove me wrong. He’s got all the opportunity in the world to do so.

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