One of the bright spots in an ugly 2010-11 season for the Florida Panthers was the play of rookie forward Evgeny Dadonov. The Russian rookie injected some life into the Panthers attack that needed a jump when he was called up from the AHL 12/7/10. He posted eight points (2 goals, 6 assists) in his first eight games and showed flashes of why he was thought of as one of the better prospects in the Panther system going into last season.
But after that, the rookie tailed off. In his next 16 games (before an injury sidelined him for about a month and a half), he tallied three points. Once, returning from the injury, he put six points over the final eleven games.
Prior to July 1, Dadonov was thought to have a his own part in the Panthers future going forward. That was until Dale Tallon went on a free agent signing spree to put completely change the present for this club. With that, has come competition for jobs that hasn’t been seen here in quite some time and has left Dadonov’s fate in his own hands. And right now, he appears to be the odd man out as the season opener is just days away as George Richards and Harvey Fialkov via Twitter reported that he was a man without a line at practice on Tuesday. This isn’t to say that he’s played poorly, but he hasn’t brought the jump to stand out amongst a slew of veterans. He didn’t tally a point in his four preseason appearances.
Personally, if the choice is keeping Dadonov in the press box versus sending him to San Antonio, I hope he’s sent to Texas and given a chance to play everyday. But for the time being, he’ll remain a Panther as he’s made the roster for right now. Young players need to the ice time to develop and Evgeny could use the time to prove himself to the new coaching staff in place in Sunrise. While the financial blow would be significant for him, especially entering the final year of his entry-level contract, the chance to stay in game shape would help once he is recalled (assuming he’s the first winger brought up in the event of an injury).
He’s still young and I think he has some upside that he’s only hinted at so, maybe his stay out of the lineup is short-lived. He’s already shown that he can be effective at this level so maybe all he needs another opportunity like he received last year. After all, there still aren’t too guys in a Panther’s sweater who have the skills to put in a goal like this.
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