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How Evgenii Dadonov scored the biggest goal of the Golden Knights’ season

Noah Strang
NHL: Chicago Blackhawks at Vegas Golden Knights
Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

The past few months have been a difficult time for Evgenii Dadonov and the Vegas Golden Knights. While they were near the top of the Pacific Division standings for most of the season, recently they’ve experienced a free fall in the standings.

This has left them fighting for a playoff spot, an unusual spot to be in for a team many consider to be Stanley Cup contenders.

To make matter worse, the organization has been in the news for the past week after a deal made at the NHL trade deadline was determined to be invalid. The Golden Knights traded Evgenii Dadonov and a conditional second-round pick to the Anaheim Ducks for defenseman John Moore and forward Ryan Kesler. Kesler hasn’t played in the NHL in years and the deal would have freed up some salary-cap space for the Golden Knights.

Between this unfortunate late-season slide and the public embarrassment of the Dadonov trade, the Golden Knights have received their fair share of bad press lately.

The Golden Knights are 13-16-4 in 2022, a far cry from the pace they hope to be on. However, they’re still in the race and just won a crucial game, all thanks to the man that’s been in the headlines: Evgenii Dadonov.

Related: Updated NHL power rankings

Why the Evgenii Dadonov trade fell through

evgenii dadonov trade, las vegas golden knights
Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

The Golden Knights acquired Evgenii Dadonov before this season from the Ottawa Senators. In that trade, the Golden Knights sent Nick Holden and a third-round pick and received Dadonov in return. The Golden Knights have been battered by injuries this season and Dadonov has provided a consistent scoring option, moving up the lineup when players ahead of him were sidelined.

Despite that, the Golden Knights are needing to shed salary and Dadonov was identified as someone that could be moved for financial reasons. The trade to the Ducks was agreed upon and the Golden Knights thought they had saved just over $3 million against the cap, money that will be crucial for their late season playoff push. However, just a few hours later issues started to pop up.

It turns out that the Anaheim Ducks were one of the teams on Dadonov’s no-trade list. This list was created as part of the contract he signed with the Senators before he was traded to the Golden Knights. However, the Golden Knights were never made aware of Dadonov’s list and traded him to the Ducks without knowing of this clause in his contract as they say they were never notified by the Senators.

This led the NHL to cancel the trade and Dadonov to return to Vegas. This resulted in an awkward situation for everyone as it’s never fun to be somewhere you’re not wanted, especially when the Golden Knights attached an asset to Dadonov to get rid of him.

A return to remember for Evgenii Dadonov

vegas golden knights' evgenii dadonov
Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Despite being traded, Dadonov returned to the Golden Knights’ lineup only a few days later after the league canceled the deal. While the Golden Knights will now need to find a different way to free up some cap space, his presence is welcome as he brings a goal-scoring touch to the lineup.

With key players like captain Mark Stone still injured, Dadonov is a contributor that can help propel the Golden Knights to the playoffs.

The Golden Knights need to put the Dadonov trade disaster behind them and focus on making the playoffs, because right now, that is the most important thing at stake.

That’s exactly what they did on Friday night when they climbed back from a 3-0 deficit to force a game against the Chicago Blackhawks into overtime. The Golden Knights scored four goals in the third period to guarantee themselves a point, with a chance at two.

Every point is crucial in a playoff race as tight as this one and the extra point up for grabs in overtime was crucial for the Golden Knights. Halfway through the extra frame, it was Dadonov who played the unlikely hero role, securing the win for a team that had tried to trade him just days prior.

What happens now?

Dadonov returning to the Golden Knights is an awkward situation but one that everyone will have to get comfortable with quickly. The Golden Knights are competition against the Edmonton Oilers, Dallas Stars, and Vancouver Canucks for a playoff spot in the Western Conference and need all the help they can get.

Dadonov’s presence does make it more difficult for the Golden Knights to field their best roster during the regular season, but that is not an issue during the playoffs when the salary cap isn’t in effect. As long as they make the playoffs, they’ll be able to activate players like Stone and create a very strong playoff lineup.