22-Year-Old Defenseman – Colorado Avalanche
Nikita Zadorov Contract Information:
Signed three-year, entry-level contract with the Sabres in September 2013. Traded to the Avalanche in June 2015.
Zadorov (ankle) is no longer listed on injured reserve, per the NHL's official media site.
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RotoWire's Preseason Outlooks
With the departure of Nick Holden to the Rangers, Zadorov has an opportunity before him to stake a claim within the Avs' top four. The blueliner spent a majority of last season with AHL San Antonio, and in 22 games with Colorado, he accumulated just two assists and 12 PIM. The sample size is small, but with Buffalo the year before, the 2013 first-round pick was able to reach 15 points and 51 minutes in the penalty box. At 6-foot-4, 200 pounds, and still a developing offensive asset, the 21-year-old Zadorov will first have to prove he belongs in the NHL before he’s considered an option outside of keeper leagues and deep formats.
Part of the draft day trade that sent Ryan O’Reilly to the Sabres, the 20-year-old Zadorov should fit in just fine on a burgeoning Colorado blue line. At 6-foot-5 and 220 pounds, Zadorov offers ideal size from the blue line, and showed flashes of offensive upside on the dreadful Sabres last season, recording three goals and 15 points in 60 games. The blueliner supplemented his scoring by dishing out 134 hits and logging 17:42 of ice time, figures that are only expected to grow as he approaches his prime years. While Tyson Barrie and Erik Johnson are the power-play quarterbacks in Colorado, Zadorov should be able to land a spot on the second man-advantage unit and create offense alongside some very crafty forwards. Zadorov may be viewed a big-bodied shutdown type, but he has a booming shot and could make a run at 20 points in 2015-16. That should be enough for him to make an impact in deeper formats this season, and he's an even more attractive entity in multi-year keeper leagues.
A punishing hitter with a fearsome slap shot, Zadorov is the future physical anchor of the Sabres’ blue line. He finished the season in the OHL after a seven-game stint with the Sabres the previous season, and though there is no denying the Russian teenager has the talent to become a top NHL defenseman one day, he still has a long way to go. The 19-year-old could win a starting job with the Sabres for the 2014-15 season, but since he’s ineligible for AHL play, he could also return to juniors for his overage season.
Zadorov was the second of two defensemen selected by the Sabres in the first round of June’s NHL Draft. The 6’5”, 221 pound Russian is a physical force on the blue line and is coming off a season in which he helped the London Knights to an OHL Championship. Zadorov is more of a project than the Sabres’ other first-rounder, Rasmus Ristolainen, and is likely two or three seasons away from competing for a spot with the big club. His long-term potential is that of a physical, shut-down defender, but the current season will likely see a return to the OHL to continue his development.