Golden Knights trade Evgenii Dadonov to Montreal Canadiens

Vegas Golden Knights right wing Evgenii Dadonov (63) reacts after scoring the winning goal in a ...

The Golden Knights traded forward Evgenii Dadonov on Thursday for the second time. This one should stick.

Dadonov was sent to the Montreal Canadiens for the contract of defenseman Shea Weber in a move that gives the Knights breathing room under the salary cap. Weber did not play last season because of lower-body injuries, and the Knights said he will remain on injured reserve.

Dadonov, 33, has one year left on his contract with a $5 million cap hit. Weber, 36, has four years remaining on his deal with a $7.857 million cap hit. Placing him on long-term injured reserve will allow the Knights to exceed the upper limit by up to that amount.

That gives the Knights about $5.2 million in spending power with nine forwards, seven defensemen and two goaltenders under contract. The Knights have two unrestricted free agents in right wing Reilly Smith and left wing Mattias Janmark, plus four restricted free agents in centers Nicolas Roy and Brett Howden, right wing Keegan Kolesar and defenseman Nic Hague.

The Knights sent Dadonov and a second-round pick to the Anaheim Ducks at the March 21 trade deadline for the contracts of center Ryan Kesler and defenseman John Moore. But the deal was canceled two days later because Dadonov had the Ducks on his 10-team no-trade list.

The Knights acquired the winger July 28 from Ottawa for defenseman Nick Holden and a 2022 third-round pick. Owner Bill Foley said the team was “misinformed” about Dadonov’s trade protection on the subsequent call with the Senators and NHL.

“(I’ve) kind of been around in the league and understand every decision,” Dadonov said of the attempted trade March 24. “(I’m) not really mad. (I) just have my rights and just was waiting.”

Dadonov was brought in to provide secondary scoring and power-play production for the Knights but had an inconsistent season. He was third on the team with 20 goals and fifth in points with 43. He also had a 17-game goal drought from Jan. 24 to March 6 and didn’t provide a significant boost on the man advantage. The Knights’ 25th-ranked power play struggled all season.

Dadonov did catch fire around the trade deadline. He had four goals in four games before the attempted deal with the Ducks. He scored twice in two games after the move was canceled, including an overtime winner against Chicago on March 26.

“You talk about character and how character is measured, and it’s usually in your lowest moments, not in your highest, how you respond to that,” former Knights coach Pete DeBoer said after the Chicago win. “I don’t think that guy could have a lower moment than having to move on and knowing he was traded. He has a young family at home. The character in his response says everything about him.”

Weber is a seven-time All-Star Game participant who took over the Canadiens’ captaincy after Max Pacioretty was traded to the Knights. He has 589 points in 1,038 games and helped Montreal to the 2021 Stanley Cup Final. He was unable to play last season, and Montreal general manager Kent Hughes said Weber is unlikely to play again.

“Everything we’ve heard from our doctors is physically he’s in really tough shape,” Hughes said. “If I thought he was coming back anytime soon, we wouldn’t be trading his contract.”

Contact Ben Gotz at bgotz@reviewjournal.com. Follow @BenSGotz on Twitter. Review-Journal reporter David Schoen contributed to this report.