Florida Panthers: Looking Ahead to Evgenii Dadonov’s Next Contract

SUNRISE, FL - DECEMBER 1: Evgeni Dadonov #63 of the Florida Panthers skates for possession against Steven Stamkos #91 of the Tampa Bay Lightning at the BB&T Center on December 1, 2018 in Sunrise, Florida. (Photo by Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images)
SUNRISE, FL - DECEMBER 1: Evgeni Dadonov #63 of the Florida Panthers skates for possession against Steven Stamkos #91 of the Tampa Bay Lightning at the BB&T Center on December 1, 2018 in Sunrise, Florida. (Photo by Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images) /

It seems as though the Florida Panthers are done making sizable moves this offseason. With that said, it’s time to look ahead to one of the most significant question marks moving forward: Evgenii Dadonov’s next contract.

Anything can happen in the NHL. A rookie can unexpectedly take the league by storm, or an otherwise top-line player can face a horrendous slump.

The unpredictability of the league makes it difficult to predict Evgenii Dadonov’s next contract.

However, for this article, let’s assume he continues to produce as a top-six winger and records at least 65 points in 82 games (.79 points-per-game).

First off, I’d like to say that I believe Dadonov’s current deal is one of the most underrated bargains in the entire league. He earns just $4M a season and has scored 28 goals in both of his first two campaigns since returning from the KHL.

Compared to other players of Dadonov’s caliber, his contract seems like an even more impressive deal for the organization.

In Pete Jensen’s most recent NHL Fantasy Forward Ranking on NHL.com, Dadonov found himself in a respectable 60th place above the likes of Jeff Skinner, Anze Kopitar and, Florida’s own, Mike Hoffman.

You certainly don’t have to agree with Jensen’s rankings, but it does show just how much kudos Dadonov receives for his on-ice attributes.

For Panthers fans, the most appealing aspect of his placement on the list should be the fact that only one other player in the top 75 makes $4M or less. Montreal’s Brendan Gallagher was ranked 74th and earns just $3.75M per year. (Excluding players on entry-level contracts.)

You don’t have to be a hockey genius to know that Dadonov deserves a considerable raise. The big question is, just how much coin is he worth?

The absence of state tax in Florida is the greatest advantage the Florida Panthers have when entering negotiations. If Dale Tallon and the Panthers brass decide to re-sign the Russian forward, they would probably be able to shave a few bucks off of any potential deal.

However, the Cats will still have to pay Dadonov handsomely and should tread lightly to avoid shooting themselves in the foot down the road.

When you look at some recent comparable contracts, any future deal for the skilled winger looks even more daunting. Anders Lee recently re-signed with the N.Y Islanders for $7M per year while Jeff Skinner re-signed with the Buffalo Sabres earlier in the offseason for $9M per year. Yikes!

While it’s true that both of those guys are a couple of years younger than Dadonov, their point production over the past two seasons are quite alike.

Do I think the Panthers will offer him over $7M? No, but it wouldn’t be shocking. I do, however, think it’s likely that Dadonov asks for a large sum of cash and significant term. He’s 30-years-old, and this will most likely be the last chance he gets to milk a team of as much money as possible.

It could end up being a tricky situation for Panthers management to navigate and one that could paint them into a corner if they commit to a long-term arrangement.

With just three years remaining on Jonathan Huberdeau ($5.9M) and Vincent Trocheck’s ($4.75M) contracts, the team is poised to dish out more hefty raises.

Every Panthers fan is hoping for continued success from both of those guys, but it would mean lucrative next deals and possible salary cap woes.

I expect Huberdeau to be worth around $10.5M and Trocheck to come in around $7.5M when their current deals are up if they keep up the pace.

Just one year after Huby and Troch come off the books, Cats’ captain Aleksander Barkov is set to take center stage.

He is an apparent top-ten center in the league, and those types of players are far from cheap. Considering inflation, he should earn roughly $12M by the time he needs to be re-upped.

More from Editorials

And then there’s Mike Hoffman. It seems highly unlikely the Panthers will be able to retain his services as well as Dadonov’s without sacrificing a core player down the road.

Hoffman is very similar to Jeff Skinner, and I could see him looking for around $8M a year. If it were up to me, I would keep Dadonov over Hoffman simply because the price tag will likely be far less. And, who knows, maybe the team opts to trade Hoffman before losing him for nothing.

Coming back to Dadonov, I hope he stays in South Florida. He’s an electrifying ball of speed and skill every night, and he adds excitement to the Panthers’ game.

If Dale Tallon can pull the trigger on a deal in the ballpark of $6.5M per year for four years, I don’t think anyone would be disappointed. I’m just not convinced it will be possible.

For now, buckle up for what should be the most exciting year of Panthers hockey and prepare yourselves for the Evgenii Dadonov trade rumors in the coming months.

Next. Puck Possession and Precision Must be Vital in 2019-20. dark

If the Florida Panthers are smart, they will do their best to limit the term of Evgenii Dadonov’s next contract. If they don’t, there will be a world of salary cap induced headaches down the road.