As the 2017-18 NHL season fast approaches, the Colorado Avalanche and Nikita Zadorov are some of the only parties left still sitting at the negotiating table for a new deal.
Zadorov, part of the deal that sent Ryan O’Reilly to the Buffalo Sabres back in the summer of 2015, is coming off of a disappointing season. He played in just 56 regular season games for Colorado, falling to record a goal and racking up just 10 total points.
Adrian Dater reports that in the wake of that, the defenseman wants to head into next year making $2.5 million for the year. The Avalanche, it seems, aren’t willing to go above the $2-million mark.
That’s left both sides at an impasse with just two weeks left until training camp.
Those statistics from last year are a stark contrast from his status as the 16th overall selection in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, which is likely leading to the reported standstill in negotiations for the restricted free agent.
Colorado almost certainly wants to see that last year was an anomaly before they give any kind of commitment on a deal, while Zadorov - who has good reason to argue that the team’s overall performance last year played into his poor season - seems to be confident that he can eke out an extra $500 grand from the team on a bridge deal.
A native of Moscow, Zadorov played for the OHL’s London Knights before getting selected by Buffalo in 2013, then made the jump straight to the NHL after just one post-draft season in major-juniors.
He’s never played more than 60 NHL games in a season, and even put up some time in the AHL with the San Antonio Rampage during his first year in Colorado - undoubtedly frustrating for the Russian-born defenseman after getting immediate full-time NHL status at age 19.
During that 60-game campaign, he put up his career high in scoring, boasting just three goals and 15 points. Still, his 30 points in 36 games during his final OHL season suggest that there was a much higher ceiling at some point that just hasn’t been reached yet.
Overall, Zadorov has been consistent in both shot suppression and in first assists (which generally correlates with playmaking) in relation to a league-average 2nd pairing defenseman.
His inability to display a full NHL season and his inconsistent scoring are both a concern, but playing for Buffalo and Colorado - both of which have been notorious for poor defensive systems and corps during his tenures - can’t have helped.
WHAT IT MEANS
With just $500,000 reportedly standing between the two parties and a deal getting done, it seems like there’s a pretty close bridge to gap.
That’s certainly more promising than if the two sides were closer to $1 million - or more - apart in their figures, but it’s not a great sign with training camp so close at hand.
The Avalanche currently have over $11 million in cap space left, making half a million as a sticking point more than a little curious. Add to that the fact that the team only has three current NHL defenseman under contract and Jared Cowen on a PTO, and it seems baffling that the team is willing to get so close to the start of the season without a valued commodity on a new deal. Particularly given that it’s likely to be a bridge deal, it seems surprising that the team isn’t willing to pony up the last little bit to bridge the gap and get something done.
Overall, this could be something that gets resolved sooner rather than later. Still, it’s not exactly good news for the team this far into the summer, assuming the reported figures are accurate.