SABRES PROSPECTS REPORT: #BLUEPRINT EDITION
Kris Baker from SabresProspects.com profiles defenseman Nikita Zadorov
A towering presence on the blue line, Zadorov enters the Sabres’ pipeline with an aggressive, physical style and a developing offensive knack. Zadorov steadily worked his way into a key role on the crowded London blue line in 2012-13, emerging with timely goals and game-changing hits in the Knights’ run to the Ontario Hockey League, along the way solidifying his spot as a top prospect for the 2013 draft.
Zadorov will take his hard shooting, hard hitting game back to the OHL for the 2013-14 season, where the Knights are expected to be a leading contender, while also being assured extended minutes in pressure situations with London hosting the 2014 Memorial Cup. In between, a date with Team Russia for the 2014 IIHF World Junior Championship also remains a strong possibility.
Zadorov has the look of a solid top-four defender who can play big even-strength minutes and fill a role on the power play. Before making an impact at the pro level, subtle improvements will need to be made in the areas of skating, pivoting, and consistency, while dialing in the details of his defensive zone coverage. With the big-bodied mentality comes the need to execute within proper range. Bone jarring collisions and the odd chip-and-charge into the offensive zone can provide the team energy as long as they don’t leave his partner defending an odd man rush.
The mix of size, shooting, and abrasive checking has scouts drawing comparisons to Chris Pronger. The pieces are in place to achieve that lofty potential, making the next two years of his development paramount to both he and the Sabres’ youth movement.
For more on all the youngsters in the Sabres pipeline, check out Kris Baker’s web site - sabresprospects.com. You can also follow him on Twitter @sabresprospects for in-game updates throughout the week on any Buffalo prospects that are in action.