With the NHL offseason in full swing starting this week, the rumor mill has begun to work overtime. While the Colorado Avalanche have been connected to a number of big names as many pundits believe Joe Sakic is in “buy” mode, one player who is likely to find his way out of Denver before next season is defenseman Nikita Zadorov.
After signing a one year contract last summer, Zadorov is once again a restricted free agent. Due a $3.2m qualifying offer, it is believed that the Avalanche are now open to moving on from the 25-year old after showing an unwillingness to lock him up long term on multiple occasions.
The emergence of Ryan Graves and Samuel Girard has pushed Zadorov down the depth chart in Colorado. In an ideal world, Zadorov fits onto the third pair for the Avalanche - unfortunately, his next contract would be too expensive for that role. As a result, it is believed that he will be looking for an annual salary that outweighs his spot in the lineup.
That has led to a lot of speculation that Zadorov will be playing for another team when the next NHL season starts.
The team that is starting to make the most sense - both from a fit and rumor standpoint - is the Boston Bruins.
In all likelihood, the Bruins are set to lose both Torey Krug and Zdeno Chara this offseason due to age and contract demands. If that’s the case, the team will be looking to fill the void with cheaper defenders who can play on their second pair.
Zadorov would be an absolutely perfect fit in Boston. He’s big, hits hard and at times plays on the edge of safe vs reckless. His big body and heavy play would fill the void created by the loss of Chara, while he could also fill in on the team’s second powerplay unit as they try to find a way to create more offense in the absence of Krug.
Given their desire to re-tool before next season and the specific holes in the Bruins lineup, it makes a ton of sense that they would be interest in Zadorov. But at what cost?
One name that has been speculated about recently is Sean Kuraly. The 27-year old forward has one more year left on his contract and is unlikely to be re-signed by the Bruins next offseason. With the emergence of Jack Studnicka and other youngsters, Kuraly could be seen as redundant in the Boston lineup and is a player who can be moved now in order to fill other holes.
In terms of fit with the Avalanche, Kuraly would be a very good option to play the 3C role, allowing J.T. Compher to move to the wing permanently. Kuraly is a big body who plays a physical style and is able to both win faceoffs and kill penalties - two aspects of the game that this Avalanche team needs to improve.
A one for one, Zadorov of Kuraly deal would make sense for both teams.
There are other options as well, whether it be a trade for draft capital or something bigger
Another Bruin that has been thrown into the rumor mill recently is Tuukka Rask. While Joe Sakic has maintained his support of the Philipp Grubauer/Pavel Francouz tandem, bringing in a proven veteran goalie like Rask might be an option for a team that wants to make a run at the Stanley Cup next season.
The potential exists that Zadorov could be a piece of a package going back to Boston in exchange for Rask, but that possibility is far less likely than a smaller deal involving depth players.
Whether anything comes of it or not, where there’s smoke, there’s fire. It’s looking more and more like Zadorov’s days in Denver are numbered and if that’s the case, the rumored move to Boston makes all the sense in the world.
What do you think, should the Avalanche finally move on from Zadorov? Is Boston the right fit?