Evgenii Dadonov prepared to mentor young Senators teammates

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Say goodbye to the Bobby Ryan puppy signs, and hello to ‘Who’s Your Daddy?’

Evgenii ‘Daddy’ Dadonov spoke to reporters via Zoom on Monday about his enthusiasm for joining the Ottawa Senators as a free agent signing, and he took a moment to credit former Florida Panthers coach Bob Boughner for giving him the “daddy” handle.”

Boughner, weighing a three-syllable Russian surname and a three-syllable Russian first name, told Dadonov: “I’m going to call you Daddy.”

To the relief of his teammates, the name stuck.

Fittingly, the player known as Daddy will have a role as a veteran and mentor for a young Senators roster. In conversations with general manager Pierre Dorion and head coach D.J. Smith, Dadonov was presented with a host of opportunities in Ottawa, including the chance of playing plenty of minutes.

“They told me I would have a good role on the team because there’s not a lot of veterans on the team,” Dadonov said. “It’s time for me to step up, as one of the most experienced guys on the team. I’m ready for that.”

Dadonov, 31, is coming off three consecutive seasons of 25-plus goals with the Panthers. He says he spoke with six or seven NHL teams during the free agency period that began Oct. 9 and settled on Ottawa because he saw a chance to be a big part of something special with a team on the rise. His three-year contract has an average annual value of $5 million.