Directly after a loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Friday, Calgary Flames defenseman Nikita Zadorov reportedly formally requested a trade. Adding further fuel to the fire, former NHLer Mike Commodore tweeted Saturday “Nikita Zadorov….thanks for the memories…..Calgary has seen enough…#PackYourS–t and take it directly to Philadelphia,”. But, are we sure Zadorov is a fit for the Philadelphia Flyers?
The difference between the Flyers and their Metropolitan Division rivals? The Devils are a Stanley Cup contender, and they desperately need help on defense.
After the Flyers defeated the Los Angeles Kings Saturday night, they might not be as far off as previously thought. What if Commodore really is on to something? Let’s discuss.
The Pros, Fit With Philadelphia Flyers
No matter how many heroic wins they pull off, it’s unlikely the Flyers become contenders overnight. If traded to Philadelphia, Zadorov joins a team that isn’t much different from the one that currently employs him.
However, the 28-year-old fits the mold of a quintessential John Tortorella defenseman. Zadorov is big and physical, plays good defense, and can chip in offensively at times. The 6-foot-6 defender scored double-digit goals for the first time last season, potting 14 in 82 games.
If Cam York takes another step forward behind Travis Sanheim’s resurgence, Zadorov would complete a left side of the Flyers defense that could conceivably hold their own in postseason games. At the moment, though, they still have Egor Zamula, Nick Seeler, Victor Mete, and Marc Staal on the roster as other left-shot options. Effectively, the Flyers would have a lot of mouths to feed, and not a lot of food.
PuckPedia shows that Philadelphia has $3.95 million in cap space, so they can fit in Zadorov’s $3.75 cap hit as things stand. However, that calculation also includes Rasmus Ristolainen being placed on LTIR.
Ryan Ellis could take Ristolainen’s spot on LTIR once the latter is healthy, but the Flyers prefer to hold off on that as long as they can.
We’ve already established that the Flyers aren’t true contenders, so let’s talk about the teams that are.
Because of Zadorov’s qualities as a dependable, physical top-four defenseman, many teams are going to be after him. Rick Dhaliwal of The Athletic has stated multiple times that the Vancouver Canucks have been after the blueliner for a while, and that they will be in on him both on the trade market and in free agency, if not already signed.
In addition to the Canucks, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman suggested the Maple Leafs as another suitor for Zadorov’s services. It was Leafs GM Brad Treliving who originally lured Zadorov to Calgary last year.
These two teams, in addition to the Devils, are going to be engaging in a bidding war for a vastly coveted player. As a rebuilder with several high draft picks in the cupboard for 2024, the Flyers want to avoid giving those away at all costs.
In addition, Zadorov has been a vocal opponent of the Russian government, and previously stated that Flyers prospect Ivan Fedotov only served in the Russian military because of his NHL aspirations. While the Flames defenseman’s comments starkly contrast the behavior of most of his countrymen, this is something that could inadvertently hurt the Flyers.
Philadelphia is counting on 2023 No. 7 overall pick Matvei Michkov to arrive in the United States upon the expiry of his KHL contract, and begin playing in the NHL. The Flyers must do everything in their power to avoid jeopardizing that move, including a high-profile trade for a very outspoken Russian blueliner.
In the end, yes: Zadorov does fit this Flyers team on the ice right now. In the long-term, though, his prospective arrival in Philadelphia just doesn’t make enough sense.