NHL News

Flames trade Zadorov to Canucks for two picks

After weeks of speculation, the Calgary Flames traded defenseman Nikita Zadorov to the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday.

The Flames received a 2024 fifth-round pick and a 2026 third-round pick in exchange for Zadorov, who will give the Canucks another top-four defenseman who offers a physical presence. Zadorov is also expected to help with a penalty kill that came into Thursday just outside the bottom 10 of the league with a 76.4% success rate.

Zadorov was thought to be a potential trade target after ESPN’s Kevin Weekes reported earlier this month that he asked the Flames to trade him. The speculation intensified later that day after his agent, Dan Milstein, published a few posts on X. Milstein, while the Flames were playing the Maple Leafs in Toronto, posted an in-game video of Zadorov delivering a hit with the comment, “Here comes Zadorov train… get your #LeafsForever tickets today…”

Then, in response to a Flames fan asking if Calgary could resign Zadorov, a pending unrestricted free agent, Milstein wrote, “I don’t think so. Not when the best D barely gets the ice time…”

Zadorov was asked about the posts after the game and said that Milstein “definitely wants to protect me.” He shared how he enjoyed playing for the Flames while also noting hockey is a business. Upon being asked if he requested a trade, Zadorov said there had been discussions.

Following Thursday’s trade, Flames general manager Craig Conroy issued a statement and thanked Zadorov “for his commitment to the Flames and for his professionalism through this process.”

Conroy went on to say, “Our hockey operations group works every day to find opportunities to make our team better today and for the future.”

Getting Zadorov comes as the Canucks entered Thursday one point behind the defending Stanley Cup champion Vegas Golden Knights for first place in the Pacific Division. Zadorov’s arrival gives the Canucks a defensive core that includes captain and Norris Trophy front-runner Quinn Hughes, Filip Hronek, Tyler Myers, Carson Soucy and Ian Cole, among others.

Cole, Hronek, Soucy and Zadorov are all defensemen the Canucks’ front office has acquired through either free agency or trade within the past several months in an attempt to revamp a defensive unit that struggled for consistency.

The trade gives Canucks GM Patrik Allvin and his front office staff another item to consider this offseason. Zadorov, who is in the final year of a two-year contract worth $3.75 million, is one of five defensemen on the Canucks’ active roster who is slated to be an unrestricted free agent this offseason, while Hronek is slated to become a restricted free agent.

As for the Flames, moving on from Zadorov generates questions about what could be next. The Flames entered Thursday one point out of the final Western Conference wild-card spot; they are one of five teams that are within five points of the Nashville Predators.

Conroy and his front office staff also have four defensemen who are slated to be unrestricted free agents this offseason. That group includes Noah Hanifin, Oliver Kylington and Chris Tanev, while the Flames’ top-line center, Elias Lindholm, is also slated to be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season.

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