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Canucks acquire defenceman Zadorov from Flames for two draft picks

VANCOUVER — The Vancouver Canucks acquired defenceman Nikita Zadorov from the Calgary Flames for a fifth-round pick in the 2024 NHL draft and a third-round pick in 2026 in a trade announced Thursday.

Zadorov is expected to make his Canucks debut Saturday against his former club at the Saddledome.

"It'll be pretty funny playing against him Saturday, but no, I wish him the best," said Flames defenceman Noah Hanifin after Calgary defeated Dallas 4-3 in overtime on Thursday.

The six-foot-six, 248-pound Russian has a goal and five assists in 21 games this season.

He has 42 goals, 90 assists and 599 penalty minutes over 588 career NHL games with Buffalo, Colorado, Chicago and Calgary.

Canucks head coach Rick Tocchet said he was happy with the pickup for his team. The intradivisional trade was announced a few hours before Vancouver fell 4-1 to Vegas at home on Thursday night.

“We’re really excited," he said. "He's a big guy, he can skate and he can shoot. We talked to him today, an hour before the game, really excited to come here. Our environment can really help him."

“We need minutes. We’re playing some other guys too much and you can tell it’s starting to wear on our defence and he’s a much-needed guy.”

Zadorov, scheduled for free agency next summer, confirmed Nov. 11 he'd been talking trades with the Flames after his agent in a social media post cast doubt on his client's long-term future in Calgary.

“I’d like to thank Nikita for his commitment to the Flames and his professionalism through this process,” said Flames general manager Craig Conroy in a statement.

"This trade provides us with important draft assets, cap space and the opportunity for another one of our young prospects to prove himself in the NHL."

The 28-year-old Zadorov from Moscow was selected by the Buffalo Sabres in the first round, 16th overall, at the 2013 draft.

Canucks general manager Patrik Allvin spoke to media Wednesday and admitted interest in signing a defenceman as the team struggles to fill the absence left by Carson Soucy, who was placed on long-term injured reserve on Nov. 24.

"Nikita is a big, strong and mobile two-way defenceman who will bring more physicality to our back end," Allvin said in a statement.

"We really like his size and reach and his addition to our blue line gives us more depth and better options moving forward."

The Flames didn't retain any of Zadorov's US$3.75 million salary to make the deal.

"Vancouver came with a deal I felt helps the Calgary Flames," Conroy said Thursday on the Fan 960 in Calgary.

"There was no rush where I had to get him out of here. Knowing what's out there, this was the time to do it."

Zadorov's agent, Dan Milstein, took to X, formerly known as Twitter, on Nov. 10 to respond to a fan on whether the Flames would be able to keep the defenceman. He wrote "I don't think so" before raising concerns about his client's ice time.

The fifth-round draft pick dealt to Calgary was acquired from the Chicago Blackhawks earlier this week in exchange for forward Anthony Beauvillier.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2023.

Nick Wells, The Canadian Press