Nikita Zadorov made his Vancouver Canucks debut a little earlier than expected, but can we really be surprised? The 28-year-old was never passing up the opportunity to face his old Calgary Flames in his first game with the Canucks. ‘Revenge’, if you want to call it that, was sweet, as Vancouver knocked off Calgary, 4-3, at the Scotiabank Saddledome.
So, how did Zadorov look in his Canucks debut? Pretty good, if you ask us.
No. 91 had 17:35 of ice time across all situations, which was fifth amongst all Canucks defensemen. Ian Cole played 17:43 – eight seconds more – while Tyler Myers, Quinn Hughes, and Filip Hronek each played north of 20 minutes. Noah Juulsen was at the bottom of the list with 16:11.
Head coach Rick Tocchet did say he wanted Zadorov to munch minutes for the Canucks, but in his debut two days after the initial trade, it’s too early to pass judgement there.
In terms of actual performance, though, Zadorov looked the part. According to Moneypuck, Zadorov was sixth in expected goals percentage against the Flames, and third amongst Canucks defenseman.
The five players higher? Cole, Juulsen, Ilya Mikheyev, Elias Pettersson, and Conor Garland.
Hughes and Hronek were notably absent from the top of the list, as both finished well under 50% xG for the Canucks. Everybody has bad games, obviously, and Hughes is a Norris Trophy candidate. Take the results with a grain of salt, because it’s not like Zadorov walked through the door and instantly made Hughes and Hronek worse, or outplayed them.
Lastly, Zadorov also picked up an assist, which was originally his goal before it was changed to Pettersson later on. The 6-foot-6 rearguard also blocked two shots, but surprisingly was not credited with a hit. We suspect that’s going to be the case on extremely rare occasions only.
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Zadorov made his Canucks debut on fairly short notice and didn’t play a lot, but he did play well. Vancouver won, and that’s all that matters at the end of the day.