Dec 20, 2014; Buffalo, NY, USA; Buffalo Sabres defenseman Nikita Zadorov (51) looks to make a pass during the third period against the Colorado Avalanche at First Niagara Center. Colorado beats Buffalo 5 to 1. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports
The Buffalo Sabres did a terrible job of managing Nikita Zadorov’s development. According to Jacob D. Strozyk of Sabre Noise, they put him forth as a rotational third pairing defenseman. He struggled to make the lineup, but made a difference every time he played.
Zadorov spent the majority of his season paired with Andrej Meszaros or Rasmus Ristolainen. Contain your excitement. (I’m not going to say these players make Nate Guenin and Brad Stuart look good… or maybe I am.)
The lowlights of Zadorov’s season came in a couple disciplanary actions the team took against him. He was unable to get a flight back from his All Star Break vacation in the Dominican Republic, so he missed a team practice. The Buffalo Sabres suspended. The team suspended him again later in the year when he overslept his alarm clock and showed up late to a team meeting.
Questions for the Upcoming Season:
Can Nikita Zadorov show up to Avalanche practices and meetings? I jest — the Colorado Avalanche have a much better system in place for young players’ development.
No, the questions about Nikita Zadorov are more about what his youth is going to look like on the ice. Defensemen typically take longer to develop, and many don’t hit their stride until their mid-20s. Zadorov is a young 20 years old.
The other big question is how he’s going to be a partner to Tyson Barrie. Barrie roams to pinch into the play. Is Zadorov going to maintain his positioning well enough to seal up the gap left by a roving Barrie?
I want to see Nikita Zadorov stay paired with Tyson Barrie. I just don’t know if he will. I suspect he may bounce back and forth to the third pairing while Nate Guenin takes over some second-pairing duty.