GARRIOCH: San Jose coach Bob Boughner says Evgenii Dadonov will be a great addition for Senators

File photo/ Evgenii Dadonov #63 of the Florida Panthers at the BB&T Center on November 8, 2018 in Sunrise, Florida. Joel Auerbach / Getty Images

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Bob Boughner has seen the impact Evgeni Dadonov can make first hand.

In his first year behind the bench with the Florida Panthers in 2017-18, Boughner wasn’t sure what to expect when the newly-signed Ottawa Senators winger arrived at training camp, but he was a pleasant surprise.

After being let go by the Panthers after two seasons, Boughner has now moved into the role as the full-time head coach of the San Jose Sharks, however, he believes people in Ottawa should be excited the Senators were able to get Dadonov signed to a three-year, $15 million contract Thursday.

“He’s a guy who’s just low maintenance and he’s a really good pro,” Boughner told Postmedia Friday from his office in San Jose. “He keeps himself in good shape. He comes in and he sort of treats his game like a business. He slows the game down in his brain. He’s very skilled and very talented.

“And, the big thing is, he can play both ends of the ice, he really can. He’s a guy in the offensive zone who’s the catalyst and he’s great at distributing the puck and putting himself in a position to get it back. He does almost everything well.”

A close friend of Ottawa coach D.J. Smith from their days together with the OHL’s Windsor Spitfires, Boughner believes an area Dadonov can help the club improve is on the power play.

“I think he’s one of the best guys — if not the best — as a bumper of the power play as that middle guy,” Boughner said. “He just knows how to relieve pressure. He’s really smart at it. He’s a power play specialist, an offensive guy, but a guy who’s also responsible at both ends.”

And, you don’t always see that with offensive players, so that’s a credit to Dadonov and his approach.

Ottawa assistant Jack Capuano would have played a role in this signing as well because he was on Boughner’s staff in Florida before joining Smith in Ottawa.

“(Dadonov’s) a guy that I didn’t know what to expect when he first came over. Guys were telling us how much they loved him and how good of a player he is,” Boughner said. “Until you see him every day, he works extremely hard in practice and he takes practice very seriously.

“He’s going to be really good for that team, especially the young guys, and they’re going to look to him and say, ‘This guy’s been around for awhile and this is how he approaches every day’. We’re talking about him taking care of his own end as well and that’s great for those young guys in Ottawa. They’re going to be able to look up to a veteran guy like him. He’s quiet but comes to work every day.”

Getting the 31-year-old Dadonov signed was big for this franchise. If you think he didn’t have options, he did, and plenty of them. At least 10 teams contacted his camp and from there he was able to get down a shortlist of three. In the end, he chose the Senators.

Being able to acquire a three-time 25-plus goal scorer isn’t easy by any stretch of the imagination. Owner Eugene Melnyk and Dorion were thrilled Dadonov chose to come here. He had 25 goals and 47 points last season with the Panthers plus he was coming off back-to-back 28-goal seasons.

“It’s a weird year with these kinds of players becoming available in the market,” said Boughner. “It’s a great signing by Ottawa. It’s a guy you’re going to be able to count on for offence and you know he’s going to be there. He’s not a guy that drifts in and out too much out of the lineup.

“When I say that, I mean he doesn’t go to sleep for 10 games. He’s consistent. Any young guy coming into the league, especially a forward watching him and how he comes to work every day and showing them his consistency, is a great teaching tool.”

Speaking on HockeyCentral at Noon on The Fan 590 in Toronto Friday, Dorion noted he talked with Dadonov’s New York-based agent Rick Komarow as soon as free agency opened last Friday.

“Right wing isn’t a place where we have a lot of depth at the NHL level as we speak,” Dorion told the station. “We pursued Evgenii right from the start. For us, he was the best right winger available on the market.

“We just let things play out. We were never in a rush to pull the offer. We made our offer which was very similar to what we signed him to. We talked to him about different term and both parties felt this was the right term.”

The Senators made it clear they didn’t want to go down this road if Dadonov had no intention of signing here.

“He didn’t string us along,” Dorion said. “From everything we know about Evgenii he’s a big hockey fan. When D.J. and I talked to him during the process after Oct. 9, he asked us a lot of questions about our team and he seemed to know a lot of players on our team.

“He seemed liked a guy that really liked hockey. We just let it play out and we pretty much finalized the deal (Wednesday) morning.”

bgarrioch@postmedia.com

Twitter: @sungarrioch

 

 

 

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