It’s probably safe to assume that, with additions like Nikita Zaitsev and, much more recently, Miro Aaltonen, going to the well that is the KHL for free agents is something the Leafs feel quite comfortable in doing. With that in mind, we should obviously expect them to continue to do so. According to reports from Sportsnet, they’ll do just that this offseason.
“They’re in on everyone” is one way Chris Johnston described the Leafs’ current pursuit of overseas free agents, but more specifically they appear to be a frontrunner in acquiring two big scorers from the KHL’s SKA St. Petersburg – winger Yevgeni Dadonov and center Vadim Shipachev .
Both of these guys are established KHL veterans. Shipachev recently turned 30-years-old and has spent an entire decade in the league, while Dadonov – a former Panthers third-round pick – just turned 28. [They actually have the same March 12th birthday.]
Scoring-wise, both players eclipsed a point-per-game pace for SKA this past season, with Shipachev notching 76 points in 50 games, while Dadonov piled in 66 in 53.
|Yevgeni Dadonov (SKA St. Petersburg)||53||30||36||66|
|Vadim Shipachev (SKA St. Petersburg)||50||26||50||76|
Toronto reportedly isn’t the only team looking to target these two players, or a variety of others. There seems to be plenty of activity around the NHL when it comes to pursuing free agents like this – no doubt somewhat a byproduct of the success Panarin in Chicago, and to a lesser extent, the Leafs’ own Zaitsev.
Johnston hinted at the new Vegas franchise being a club that will make a push to sign these two particularly, which makes a lot of sense. That could be a team that promises a lot more in terms of prominent roles for these players, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see them go there. Still, this is a very interesting story to keep an eye on given the potential for such a massive changeover in the Leafs’ roster this upcoming summer. Sounds like they’re going to overturn a lot of stones in doing so.