Evgenii Dadonov’s first crack at the NHL over a decade ago was a major disappointment. His second stint has been much more successful.
The Russian winger established himself as a reliable top-six scorer over the past four seasons and gives the Golden Knights another 20-goal threat after being acquired in a trade with Ottawa on Wednesday.
“It was a long time ago and hard to tell. A lot of changes,” Dadonov said Thursday. “I think I grew as a player, and hockey’s changed. I have more experience. I knew what’s expected the second time. I don’t even see a reason to compare those points.”
Dadonov, 32, was selected by Florida in the third round in 2007 and was highly touted when he arrived in North America in 2009.
But he didn’t speak English and struggled to adapt with the Panthers, who were coached at the time by Pete DeBoer. Dadonov bounced between Florida and the American Hockey League for three seasons until he headed back to Russia in 2012.
In the Kontinental Hockey League, Dadonov emerged as a consistent point producer in his five seasons. He posted 30 goals and 66 points in 53 games for SKA Saint Petersburg during the 2016-17 season skating with onetime Knights forward Vadim Shipachyov.
Dadonov returned to the NHL in 2017-18 and averaged 27 goals and 61 points over the next three seasons with the Panthers before he signed a three-year, $15 million contract…