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The Blackhawks Cannot Make a Mistake with Nikita Zadorov

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - MARCH 23: Juho Lammikko #83 of the Florida Panthers is pressured by Nikita Zadorov #16 of the Chicago Blackhawks along the boards at the United Center on March 23, 2021 in Chicago, Illinois. The Blackhawks defeated the Panthers 3-2. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - MARCH 23: Juho Lammikko #83 of the Florida Panthers is pressured by Nikita Zadorov #16 of the Chicago Blackhawks along the boards at the United Center on March 23, 2021 in Chicago, Illinois. The Blackhawks defeated the Panthers 3-2. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /
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A report has been disclosed that the Blackhawks are not close to signing Brandon Hagel while Zadorov is asking for a huge pay raise. If it comes down to salary, the team should send Zadorov packing and bring Hagel back.

We have been down many bad roads with the Blackhawks in recent history: Bad trades, let the wrong guys walk, bad contracts, fired the wrong coach, the list goes on. A report was disclosed that they are not getting anywhere with Brandon Hagel‘s extension while Nikita Zadorov is asking for 5.85 million for 5 years.

As I am not an NHL GM, this is my personal opinion on the matter. It makes logical sense in my mind to sign Hagel back for between 1.5-2.5 million for 2 years on a bridge deal. You then have at 3.1 million left to sign your other guys or depth forwards for cheap. You sign for Adam Gaudette and Vinnie Hinostroza for 1 million each, and Pius Suter signed for 2.75 for another year. You also let Zadorov walk if he asks for anything higher than 4 million.

Looking at the math, even if Hagel takes the maximum, that would be a combined 7.25 million for four players. Seeing as Zadorov wants 5.85 million, the Blackhawks only use 1.15 million more in four very useful players. Ryan McDonagh of the Tampa Bay Lightning re-signed for 6.75 million, 900K more than Zadorov, as the number two defenseman. He is very impactful for the team while Zadorov feels out of favor multiple times.

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Signing Zadorov for 5.85 million is by far the worst thing the Blackhawks can do at the moment. They have a plethora of young defensemen who want to play, not to mention that they still have to sign Hinostroza and Gaudette to solidify their bottom-six. Let’s also add that Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, and Alex Debrincat are due for a new contract in 2024. Connor Murphy also needs a new deal after this season.

As much as I trash on Zadorov, I do still think that he is a serviceable defenseman on any NHL team, but on a third-pairing role. He is asking for what I would think Connor Murphy would ask for and Zadorov is nowhere close to a top defenseman.

If the Blackhawks bring back Zadorov, they will have another “Brent Seabrook” situation and Zadorov never did anything to prove he deserves a massive deal. Seabrook was the number-two defenseman for the Blackhawks for the entire decade they were dominating the league. Zadorov… He’s big and he hits people but his hits are not exactly effective and he skates out of position way too much. The confusing thing here is that he isn’t the best defenseman on the team, but he also isn’t the worst.

"Blackhawks Business: What To Do With RFA Nikita Zadorov"

To conclude, the Blackhawks cannot sign Zadorov to that 5.85 million deal and should really just qualify his RFA to sign their other FA. They cannot afford to have another bad long-term contract, especially with their future core, and current superstars, in need of a new contract within three years. As the Blackhawks see their cheap, young guys coming off their entry-level contracts, they have to plan for the future, not the present.

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