Correspondence emerges proving Evgenii Dadonov filed no-trade paperwork correctly

Vegas Golden Knights forward Evgenii Dadonov (63) drives the puck away from Los Angeles Kings forward Adrian Kempe (9) during the first period of an NHL hockey game. (Ringo H.W. Chiu/AP)

Evidence emerged on Tuesday that there is correspondence proving the no-trade paperwork at the core of the Evgenii Dadonov trade dispute was filed correctly and on time, according to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, adding to the uncertainty over whether or not a deal between the Vegas Golden Knights and Anaheim Ducks will go through.

At the centre of the issue is a no-trade clause in Dadonov’s contract which, as Friedman reported on Monday, says Dadonov cannot be traded without first being allowed to submit a 10-team no-trade list. The contract also stipulates the list for the year had to be submitted by July 1, 2021.

Dadonov was traded to Vegas from the Ottawa Senators on July 28, 2021. Friedman reports that on that trade call, the Golden Knights and NHL were led to believe the no-trade protection had expired or was not filed properly, making Dadonov eligible to be traded anywhere — including Anaheim, which is believed to have been one of the clubs Dadonov did not want to be dealt to.

The circumstances around the clause and whether or not it was properly disclosed were disputed shortly after news of the trade broke, with the Golden Knights saying they had “become aware of an issue” with respect to the trade and were consulting with the league office.

Dadonov, though, was adamant that the no-trade list was filed properly — which would render his acquisition by the Ducks ineligible to be completed — and the deal became an NHL/NHLPA issue instead of a team-based problem.

It remains to be seen how the issue will be adjudicated between the league and the players’ association and there is no definitive timeline for its resolution.

No-trade issues such as this have been uncommon in recent NHL history, with the most recent well-known example being Patrik Berglund.

Berglund spent 12 years with the St. Louis Blues organization and, on Feb. 24, 2017, signed a five-year extension that included a 20-team no-trade list for Year 2 and Year 3 of the deal.

However, the no-trade clause was voided when Berglund failed to provide the list of teams before a pre-established deadline, making him eligible to be traded anywhere. He was traded to Buffalo on July 1, 2018, where he briefly started as the Sabres’ second-line centre before getting scratched a couple of weeks into the season and ultimately decided to leave the team after a practice in mid-December.

The Sabres initially suspended Berglund for failing to report for a team flight and eventually terminated the remaining three-plus years on his contract.

The emergence of correspondence that proves Dadonov filed his no-trade paperwork in time would be a key differentiator between the two cases, and may pave a path to the trade being voided, at which point he would remain on the Golden Knights roster.

If that happens, the Golden Knights will face a salary-cap crunch and need to find another way to be compliant as clearing Dadonov’s cap hit was needed to activate defenceman Alec Martinez from long-term injured reserve.

In addition to Dadonov, the Ducks were slated to receive a conditional second-round selection in 2023 or 2024 from Vegas as part of the trade, while the Golden Knights were set to acquire AHL defenceman John Moore and the contract of Ryan Kesler, who hasn’t played since 2018-19.

Dadonov, 33, has 15 goals and 12 assists in 62 games this season, and 249 points in 397 career games.

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