Colorado Avalanche: Strategy Sakic Should Use to Sign Nikita Zadorov

DENVER, CO - FEBRUARY 04: Nikita Zadorov
DENVER, CO - FEBRUARY 04: Nikita Zadorov /

The Colorado Avalanche could use a creative strategy to get defenseman Nikita Zadorov to come back the NHL, even at the lower pay rate.

The Colorado Avalanche’s 2017-18 season is fast approaching, and Nikita Zadorov still doesn’t have a contract. The team and player seem to be quibbling over $500,000 — $2 million vs $2.5 million.

Zadorov is an integral part of an already average at best defense and he needs a contract. I don’t believe he will be traded, so the only other option besides playing in Colorado this season would be leaving for the KHL. However, there might be one way to help Sakic convince Zadorov to stay. He should trade for a young Russian “comrade”.

Nikita Zadorov leaving Colorado and going to the KHL is looking more and more like a real possibility, and I’m conflicted. On the one hand, I know that sometimes these things take longer than fans would like. I know that other important players to their teams such as David Pastrnak, Sam Bennett, and Alexander Wennberg also do not have contracts.

On the other hand, I’m a fan and I’m nervous. Zadorov is very important to our defense. He’s a big boy that can skate and move the puck. Forwards coming down at Zadorov better keep their heads up, as Mark Scheifele learned.

Also, Colorado still has a lot of work to do before they become relevant in the playoff picture. As much as Zadorov would be a key piece to that puzzle, he may simply not want to be a part of it.

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Before I go any further, know that I understand this is not a guarantee. I get that trading for a young Russian will not make Zadorov think Denver is just like Moscow (even with all the snow, I still don’t think he’ll be fooled). That being said, there is a case for that young player whose hometown is on the other side of the globe having people around him who speak the same language.

The good news is that there are already a few Russians on the team. On the current roster as it is now, Semyon Varlomov and newcomer Nail Yakupov are the only Russians. Defenseman Andrei Mironov and Sergei Boikov will most likely be competing for a top-6 spot on the NHL roster. If one of them attains a spot, that makes three Russians on the roster. I still think one more Russian might show Zadorov that Sakic is willing to do a little extra to make him feel comfortable.

The bad news is trading for a young Russian to play on the Avalanche this year is easier said than done. I’m in no way suggesting or believing the Avs should trade for Vladimir Tarasenko, Nikita Kucherov, or anyone else of that caliber. Acquiring a bottom-6 forward with NHL experience from a team that already has forward depth should be Sakic’s target market.

I did some digging, and I found three potential candidates.

Alexander Burmistrov:  Vancouver Canucks

Burmistrov is a center who has bounced around a little. The 8th overall pick in 2010 spent some time in the KHL before coming back to North America. This option doesn’t seem as ideal as the others, as he just signed with the Canucks this offseason and underachieving centers are not what Colorado needs right now.

Anton Slepyshev: Edmonton Oilers

Slepyshev is a winger who played in exactly half of Edmonton’s regular season games and 12 of 13 of their playoff games last season. He has been portrayed as a guy with pretty decent NHL size coupled with great hands and a good shot, but still has to develop his game. I think wingers should be what Sakic goes for, as depth on the wing has been a problem here for a while.

Nikita Soshnikov: Toronto Maple Leafs

I have to say, I like this idea the most. Soshnikov is a winger who played in over 50 games for the Maple Leafs, a team loaded with young talent on the wings. They simply do not have room on their NHL roster for all their young wingers. Sakic could present a tantalizing option for Toronto’s management and take Soshnikov off their hands. He posses NHL speed and skill to go along with a particularly nasty style of play for his size. This is something I don’t think Sakic has a lot of in his bottom-6 and could really use. Also, here’s his first NHL goal.

Not a bad shot either.

Next: What Avs Would Have to do Without Z

Overall, there are no guarantees that getting another Russian on this team will make Nikita Zadorov want to sign. It isn’t a lock that he will sign here period. I also don’t know what exactly what deals for these players would look like, but that’s not my job. That job goes to Joe Sakic. My only concern is Nikita Zadorov wanting to stay with the Colorado Avalanche, and if we get another NHL ready player for our roster, that’s great too.