It’s been a tough week for Golden Knights fans. First the organization traded away two fan favorites only to have word come down that Alex Tuch will be out for six months with an injured shoulder. That’s a lot of difficult news in only five business days in the middle of summer.
Sticking with who’s left, filling Tuch’s role for an extended period of time will be difficult for coach Pete DeBoer. The good news is the roster has several options to help create offense, but will it be enough to improve Vegas’ lackluster power play?
(Dadonov) was a player we identified as a priority. We had him ahead of all players that were available in Expansion. That effectively addressed the need of adding one good foward. -Kelly McCrimmon
This week general manager Kelly McCrimmon acquired forward Evgenii Dadonov from Ottawa as another weapon to aid the power play, where he’s found high levels of success. Since his return to the National Hockey League in 2017-18, the 31-year-old Russian has registered 25 power play goals. In that span, he’s tied in PPG with offensive studs like Patrick Kane and Artemi Panarin. Even more impressive, Dadonov posted those numbers without scoring on a man-advantage last season with Ottawa.
Evgenii Dadonov had been a solid scorer and a power play weapon while in Florida, but his numbers dropped off significantly last year in OTT. He had 25 power play goals in 225 games with FLA but scored 0 in 55 games with the Sens.
He's slated to make $5m for the next 2 years. https://t.co/FSjHetE6F0
— SinBin.vegas (@SinBinVegas) July 28, 2021
Immediately, the former Panther and Senator becomes a top lethal specialist for the Golden Knights. His plus-one production surpasses the likes of Jonathan Marchessault, Max Pacioretty and Mark Stone.
Power Play Goals Since 2017-18
Evgenii Dadonov: 25 PPG
Max Pacioretty: 24 PPG
Jonathan Marchessault: 20 PPG
Mark Stone: 19 PPG
William Karlsson: 18 PPG
Reilly Smith: 18 PPG
Alex Tuch: 12 PPG
Dadonov’s lack of power play production last season is concerning but can also be forgiven when you consider how ineffective the Senators’ special teams were. If you thought Vegas’ power play was bad, Ottawa’s was even worse.
2021 PP Stats
VGK: 31 PP Goals (19th in NHL)
OTT: 27 PP Goals (25th in NHL)
In addition to Dadonov, DeBoer could assign more power play minutes to Mattias Janmark while Tuch is on the injured list. Janmark has scored nine power play goals since 2017-18 and could add chemistry to the second unit. Either way, the new specialists will be called upon early in the 2021-22 season.
Oh yeah, tell me you didn’t think about Nikita Kucherov when the news broke about Tuch’s lengthy injury. It’s possible Vegas is in a situation they can take advantage of LTIR like the back-to-back reigning champions Tampa Bay Lightning. Tuch’s timetable has him expected to be out until January or so, while it doesn’t appear he can be a true Kucherov 2.0, his LTIR space could easily be replaced if the Golden Knights experience another injury, which would effectively allow them to exceed the cap the entire season.
It’s good to have options, unfortunately, Tuch’s surgery opened up even more.