One of the lesser-known trades made by Jim Rutherford over the last year was him sending Jon Matsumoto and Mattias Lidstrom to the Flordia Panthers for AJ Jenks and Evgenii Dadonov. There wasn’t much thought put into this trade because none of the players in the deal had much NHL experience but the Hurricanes did end up getting the best player in the trade, or at least that’s how things look right now. Dadonov played only 15 games in the NHL last season and is going to be spending next year in the KHL, but he did have some minor success during his rookie season with the Panthers in 2010-11.
He posted 8 goals and 17 points in 36 games with the Cats that year and could have made the NHL to start the next season but Dale Tallon’s off-season splurging that year made it tough for him to make the final roster and he ended up starting the year with their AHL affiliate in San Antonio. Unfortunately, Dadonov would struggle there and the Hurricanes decided to take a chance on him by trading two guys with limited NHL potential for him. What did they get out of it? Ultimately, not much in terms of NHL production but the Charlotte Checkers sure enjoyed having Dadonov on the team.
Injuries and call-ups allowed Dadonov to play in a top-six role for the Checkers and he made the most of it with 19 points in 35 games with the Checkers, 16 of those points being assists. Many thought that Dadonov would get a look in Raleigh before the season was over but he ended up spending the remainder of the year in Charlotte. The Canes decided to qualify him to keep his rights when he returns to the NHL, which could be next year or a couple years from now and who knows what his value/potential will be by that time. Dadonov has always been praised for his offensive potential but he has never been much of a scorer outside of the junior level, so he could end up not amounting to more than a bottom-sixer in the NHL.
Dadonov does bring a lot of good things to the table, though. He was able to tilt possession in the Panthers favor during his rookie season and he actually scored at a decent rate for a 21-year-old rookie. The other nice quality Dadonov has is that he is actually pretty useful defensively and is a pretty effectively physical player despite not being very big. Dadonov definitely has the makings of being a useful player in the NHL but it’s hard to say what his ceiling is. He showed a lot of potential with the Panthers during his rookie season but he has yet to match that, especially during his time in the AHL. He did seem to play better after the trade to Charlotte, though and that gives me some hope that he could find his way back to the NHL. It will be awhile before we find that out with him heading to the KHL now.
It is really hard to peg Dadonov as one of the higher ranked forwards in Carolina’s system right now because he has yet to make much of an impact, but there are a lot of signs of him being a useful player somewhere down the line. He has pretty solid puck-possession skills and would make a great third liner if his scoring rates stay the same. Dadonov has shown flashes of being a great offensive talent and play-maker, but he hasn’t been able to do it consistently, so he might end up being on a checking line in the NHL. There is no doubt that he can amount to being more than that, but he hasn’t been able to show it yet. Guess we will know more when he returns from Russia.