Pending Colorado Avalanche RFA Nikita Zadorov is still without a contract, and it might be time to start worrying.
Earlier this summer, it was reported that Nikita Zadorov wanted to stay with the Colorado Avalanche, but that he may bail to the KHL if they don’t offer him enough money.
Well, he’s still without a contract. Even though the Avs have been known to wait well into the summer before signing some of their RFAs, it’s still unnerving that the young man is without a contract.
Furthermore, this is not the summer to be waiting to sign a RFA of Zadorov’s caliber. Teams have to submit their protected players list for the expansion draft on June 17 by 5:00pm ET.
Which basically means the Colorado Avalanche have just over two weeks to sign Nikita Zadorov to a contract. Sure, they can protect him and then worry about a contract later, but it’s better to get a deal done now. Let’s face it, if the Avs don’t offer him enough money, he can, and probably will, bail to the KHL.
Right there, the Avs lose the Ryan O’Reilly trade because he is clearly the top asset in that trade. They also lose one of their top up and coming prospects. Furthermore, Nikita Zadorov was starting to skate into his own before fracturing his ankle last season. It’s time for the Avs to get a deal done with Zadorov.
What Kind of Money Does Nikita Zadorov Deserve?
This is the hard part folks. Nikita Zadorov has not proven himself worthy of a long-term contract yet. I wrote an article about this nearly 16 weeks ago after Nikita Zadorov’s beast of a game against the Winnipeg Jets.
In that article I said that Nikita Zadorov’s play over the remainder of the season would ultimately determine the type of contract he would be offered during the summer. Unfortunately, he fractured his ankle just two weeks after that whale of a game against Winnipeg.
So, the verdict is still out. What does Nikita Zadorov deserve? And, what ultimately makes the most sense for the Colorado Avalanche? Should they sign him to a long-term contract and give him the money now, taking a risk? Or, should they stay safe and give him a bridge contract and perhaps pay the price a couple years down the line?
More from Mile High Sticking
- Could Colorado Avalanche move on from Pavel Francouz next offseason?
- 4 goalies to replace Pavel Francouz if he has to miss time
- Colorado Avalanche make sneaky signing with Tatar
- Colorado Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog could return in 2023-24 playoffs
- Colorado Avalanche rookie face-off tournament roster
Either way, there are risks involved. However, the ultimate risk they run is losing Zadorov to the KHL if they don’t give him enough money. That is a risk that cannot become a reality.
Unfortunately, the fact of the matter is that Zadorov has not earned big money yet. If the Avs threw say 4 million at him now, they would certainly be overpaying. However, he can probably get that kind of money in the KHL. Furthermore, he will most likely be worth that kind of money soon, maybe even as early as next season, but certainly by the 2018-19 season.
The Avs have a tough decision to make with Nikita Zadorov. The sooner they make that decision, the better.
There have already been some big contract announcements this summer. Ben Bishop received a huge contract from the Dallas Stars worth 29.5 million over six years. Scott Darling signed a four year 16.6 million dollar contract with the Carolina Hurricanes. And, Nikita Zaitsev signed a seven year 31.5 million dollar contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs*.
That last one is of particular interest to the Colorado Avalanche. Zaitsev is just 25 years old and played his first season as an NHL defenseman during 2017-18. Granted, he put up 36 points for the Maple Leafs and has shown a lot of potential to develop even more.
However, the Leafs still took a chance on him. They signed him to a contract that will take him into his mid-thirties, and at a price of 4.5 million a year. That’s either a great investment, or a calculated risk to make sure he stays in North America. It’s probably both actually.
Regardless, the Colorado Avalanche obviously don’t have the same stats to justify such a contract for Zadorov, but they should have the same risk-aversion mindset. In other words, it makes sense to give Big Z a big contract with some term on it in order to avoid losing him down the line.
Over the years many players have made their exodus to Russia, leaving their NHL clubs with a contract but not a player. Ilya Kovalchuk did it, Alexander Radulov did it and Pavel Datsyuk just did it. There are a host of others who have made their departure as well.
It’s a two-way street for sure, as Andrei Mironov just left his contract on the table with one year remaining to come to North America for the Colorado Avalanche. Regardless, the Avs cannot let Nikita Zadorov go to the KHL. Money and term now = peace of mind in the future.
* All stats taken from Spotrac.com