It sounds like the Panthers have big plans for Evgeny Dadonov

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The Florida Panthers were busy on the first day of free agency, saying goodbye to Jaromir Jagr and Jussi Jokinen and replacing them with forwards Evgeni Dadonov, Radim Vrbata and Michael Haley.

Dadonov is probably the most intriguing of the new additions because he is somewhat of a mystery after spending the past five seasons playing in the KHL where he was one of the league’s most productive players, especially this past season. He brings plenty of talent to the lineup, and to here general manager Dale Tallon talk on Saturday after signing the Panthers seem to have some high expectations for him.

Not only does Dadonov, for the time being, seem slated to skate on the team’s top line alongside Aleksander Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau.

Tallon also talked about how much Dadonov’s game has changed since his first look in the NHL more than five years ago.

“He’s a totally different player now, fitness level, nutrition, maturity,” Tallon said, via the Sun Sentinel. “High speed, work ethic, gets on pucks and makes plays. He plays a hard, 200-foot game, is very creative and very fast. In the last three years at the World Championships he’s been arguably the best player in the tournament playing on a very good Russian team.”

Originally a third-round pick by the Panthers in 2010, Dadonov only appeared in 55 NHL games with the Panthers (scoring 10 goals to go with 10 assists) before being traded to Carolina and then ultimately heading overseas to play in Russia.

The Panthers are paying Dadonov a pretty significant amount, inking him to what was reported to be a three-year, $12 million contract making it a pretty pricey gamble. But there is some pretty significant upside to it as well. Dadonov is coming off of a 2016-17 in the KHL where he was a dominant offensive player. We saw last season the type of impact Alexander Radulov had on the Montreal Canadiens after he made his return from the KHL. While Dadonov may not be quite the offensive player Radulov is, if he give the Panthers anything even close to that sort of production it would be an excellent addition to a team looking to add offense after finishing 23rd in the league in goals scored. Combined with the smart signing of Vrbata on a cheap, one-year contract, the Panthers may have found a couple of solid additions in what was a thin crop of free agents.

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