The Florida Panthers were a very interesting team this past season. Looking like a lottery team for most the year they found their legs late in the season and went on a great run. This run ultimately saw them missing the Stanley Cup Playoffs by just a few points. A big reason for this run that almost saw them into the promise land was Florida’s top six. Young studs like Aleksander Barkov, Jonathan Huberdeau, Nick Bjugstad, and Vincent Trocheck. However, someone who always seemed to get overlooked when talking about the Panthers? Evgeni Dadonov. Returning from the KHL this season the 29-year-old was a huge part of the Panthers success.
Evgeni Dadonov‘s Big Season
The first thing to look at it just basic production. Evgeni Dadonov had 65 points in 74 games played this season, good for 0.88 points per game. His 65 points ranked fourth among Panthers forwards this season. Obviously, 65 points aren’t the absolute top tier in NHL points, however, it is still very solid. What becomes really impressive is when you look at when he scored these.
At 5v5 Dadonov had 21 Goals and 29 Assists for 50 points this season. He did this while playing 1064 minutes at 5v5. His points per 60 (P/60) ranks seventh in the league among forwards. Sitting at 2.82 the only people ahead of him are superstars of this league. Names like Connor McDavid, Nathan MacKinnon, and Auston Matthews. The only right wing ahead of him is Nikita Kucherov. This has been elite level of production at 5v5 from Dadonov this season.
When you switch to primary points per 60 he is even better. Looking by this standard Dadonov had a P1/60 of 2.26. This ranks fourth in forwards and first among wingers. He is just 0.04 P1/60 behind Connor McDavid. This is elite levels of production, and important production in the time he’s been given to play. Evgeni Dadonov’s ability to put up points when he was on the ice was massive for the Florida Panthers.
So we have seen that Evgeni Dadonov is amazing at producing, but is he driving play and is this something that is repeatable? Let’s take a look at that using Corsi For Percentage (CF%), Expected Goals Percentage (xGF%), and Game Score (GS). All of these stats will be taken from Corsica.
First, let’s look at Dom’s Game Score. Game Score helps measure who had the best games, and seasons. In terms of his team, Evgeni Dadonov is a mile above his teammates. At 3.28 GS/60, the next forward on his team is Nick Bjugstad at 2.7 GS/60. Switch to league-wide and Dadonov ranks eighth among all forwards. His all-around game has been amazing this year and his Game Score is reflective of that.
Evgeni Dadonov leads the Panthers forwards when we look at CF%. He has a 53.43 CF% and a 6.19 Relative Corsi For Percentage. These numbers are both very good and means that he is driving play very well for the Panthers. What’s even more impressive is he has this great shot differential despite starting in the offensive zone just 43% of the time. Dadonov started the third least of Panthers forwards in the offensive zone this year. His line got used defensively quite a bit but did not get stuck in his own end. This is an important type of line to have that can go out, get out of their own end and get something going offensively.
Looking at xGF% Dadonov’s play doesn’t fall off at all. He ranks first in forwards in both xGF% and RelxGF% with 54.71 and 8.69 percent respectively. This should be super encouraging for Panthers fans as xGF% has said to be a better future predictor of success than Corsi. Dadonov has been absolutely dominant at 5v5 and there is nothing to suggest that should change next year.
As I touched on in the last paragraph. Dadonov started 43% of his shifts in the offensive zone this year, the third lowest of any Panthers forward. Despite this, he still managed to have great Shot Shares and Expected Goals. So, how has he been in his defensive end?
One of the most underrated parts of the game, and especially when getting defensive zone starts is penalty taking. Penalty draws are huge too, but in the defensive zone, it is much more important to not take any. In his 1000+ minutes played at 5v5 this season Dadonov took just two minor penalties. This is unbelievably good for the Panthers. Out of 252 players in the league who played 800 minutes or more at 5v5 this season, just three had less than two minor penalties. Ryan O’Reilly, Jimmy Vesey, and Jake Debrusk all have one. Out of those guys, O’Reilly is the only one who played more than Dadonov. His ability to defend while not taking penalties has been amazing.
Dadonov also ranks fifth in Panthers forwards with 42 takeaways. This is not a stunning number, however, considering he played eight fewer games than anyone above him this is solid. His ability to not turn the puck over is also useful in the defensive zone. All four forwards above him gave the puck over much more than his 36. Dadonov was given tough starts and still managed to play great with them, and be solid all around the ice this year.
Evgeni Dadonov Key Going Forward
Overall, Evgeni Dadonov got very over-shadowed this year. However, he was one of the best wingers in the entire league and was a production machine. Ranking in along with elite players for lots of offensive categories, it should not be understated how big of an impact Dadonov had for the Florida Panthers this season. If he plays like this again next season it could be crucial in helping the Panthers return to the postseason. However, one thing is for sure, Evgeni Dadonov deserves more credit.