Colorado Avalanche Close to Contract with Nikita Zadorov

DENVER, CO - JANUARY 25: Nikita Zadorov
DENVER, CO - JANUARY 25: Nikita Zadorov /

Colorado Avalanche defenseman Nikita Zadorov is still a restricted free agent. However, the two sides are still talking, and it sounds positive.

The Colorado Avalanche should have the services of defenseman Nikita Zadorov next season.

Zadorov is a restricted free agent. He came to Colorado as part of — the main part of — the trade that sent Ryan O’Reilly to the Buffalo Sabres. GM Joe Sakic at the time stated specifically, “[Nikita Zadorov] is going to be on the back end for a good 10 years for us.”

Recently Zadorov spoke with the Russian site Sport Express [Full disclosure: I ran it through Google Translate]. During the interview, he talked a little about his negotiations with the Colorado Avalanche. He stated that he’s “constantly” in touch with his agent but that there are some sticking points.

In fact, it seems the two have agreed on term — two years. It’s meant to be a bridge contract, which makes total sense considering the progression of his development. Nikita Zadorov is just 22, and that’s still pretty young for a defenseman.  He’s played 145 NHL games.

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According to his interview, he seems satisfied with the two-year bridge deal. That means the sticking point is money. Zadorov is coming off his entry-level contract with an annual average value of $1.74 million but a cap hit of around $900,000.

Naturally, Zadorov will be looking for a pay raise. And while my knee-jerk reaction is to say the Avs ought to overpay Zadorov in the short term to keep him in Colorado, Sakic is probably leery of such deals after the whole O’Reilly debacle. He’s probably going to want a reasonable number as a springboard for their next contract negotiations.

Now, it sounds like Zadorov has named his price:

"“I’m waiting for a decision from Colorado. For myself, I decided that I was ready to wait until the end of July. But I want stability. If we do not agree, then I will compete for CSKA.”"

Two things sound pretty clear — he has a time frame (end of July) and an alternative team in mind. Hopefully, he’s not completely inflexible about the number.

Zadorov said he won’t disclose the number until they’ve reached an agreement. However, he also knows he has value:

"“I do not ask for anything unnatural. I know my price and ask exactly the conditions that I deserve. There is too much at stake.”"

Of course, part of what’s at stake is the fact that both Zadorov and his wife of two years are from Russia. And they’ve recently had a baby, so being in Russia right now might be an attractive proposition. Plus, there’s the money thing — even Sakic admitted, “You can make a lot of dough playing in Russia.”

That said. Nikita Zadorov does appreciate what he has here in Colorado:

"“I want to play in the NHL, I love the Avalanche. I like everything in Colorado. But we must look at things with the right eye.”"

Zadorov also isn’t looking for a trade:

"“Everything suits me in the club. We have a young and promising team. I have excellent relations with the coaching staff. I would like to achieve something with the Avalanche.”"

Zadorov definitely expects things to be better with the team next season:

"“I understand what you are talking about, and therefore I have very high hopes for the next season. I will prepare for the season as I have never prepared myself. I myself make a big bet on the upcoming championship. I hope that we will agree with Colorado.”"

He states in the interview that he’s planning on working especially hard during the summer. Apparently he was already skating on April 20.

Next: Avs in No-Win Situation with Varlamov

Anyway, it’s hard to know exactly what the Colorado Avalanche should offer Nikita Zadorov. I’d hate to think he’s trying to screw the team with his demands. And Colorado has the cap space. I guess I’d be ok if he made somewhere between Tyson Barrie‘s old contract ($2.6 million) and Erik Johnson‘s old contract ($3.75)