Top 5 Avalanche to Watch 2015-16

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Nikita Zadorov

Nov 28, 2014; Buffalo, NY, USA; Buffalo Sabres defenseman Nikita Zadorov (51) during the game against the Montreal Canadiens at First Niagara Center. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

Defenseman Nikita Zadorov is yet another youngster on a steep learning curve in the NHL. Just 20 years old, the big Russian (6-foot-5, 220 pounds) is already entering his third season in the NHL. He came over from the Buffalo Sabres in the Ryan O’Reilly trade.

Zadorov has a very different role than an Erik Johnson. Zadorov is a shut-down defenseman. He’s meant to check opponents in every way possible, including full-on body checks. However, he’s a talented skater and pretty decent at moving the puck up the ice.

The Colorado Avalanche have been wanting/needing a defenseman like this for a while. Personally, I hope he’s going to take on the role of defender, crushing opponents who get handsy (or sticksy) with skill players such as Duchene, MacKinnon and his proposed linemate, Tyson Barrie.

I think Avs Nation is curious about what he can do for our defensive corps, for sure.