2004-05: Spent the bulk of the season with Salavat Yulaev Ufa’s junior team in Russia, scoring 2 goals with 4 assists and 32 PIM. In 5 games with the Super League team, he had no points with 4 PIM. Played for Team Russia at the WJC U-18 tournament and had 1 goal with 1 assist in six games.
2005-06: Despite his youth, Zubarev established himself playing with Ak Bars Kazan in the Russian Super League, scoring 2 goals with 11 assists and 40 PIM in 40 games. He was a member Russia’s silver medal-winning WJC squad, playing well alongside Kiril Lyamin (OTT) with two assists but gained notoriety for more than his play on the ice. Zubarev made comments to the media, disparaging the skill level of the Canadians as compared to the Russians, before his team was beaten, 5-0, by Canada. His season ended prematurely when he broke his wrist in February.
2006-07: Point-wise, Zubarev did not fare as well in his second season in Kazan, appearing in 20 games and receiving 32 PIM but failing to appear on the scoresheet (there are no second assists in Russian hockey). Zubarev had another outstanding tournament for Russia at the WJC finishing with 2 assists and +5 in six games as Russia again reached the championship game before falling to Canada.
2007-08: Zubarev’s final year in Kazan was a disappointment, as he fell out of favor with the coaching staff at times and found himself in and out of the lineup. He appeared in 39 regular season and two playoff games, scoring 4 goals with 3 assists and accumulated a career-high 86 PIM.
2008-09: Zubarev signed with Mytischi Atlant of the re-named KHL and struggled to find ice time for much of the season but finished the season strong and played well in the playoffs. In 35 regular season games, he finished with 4 assists and 65 PIM but was a force in Atlant’s seven playoff games, scoring 2 goals with 3 assists.
2009-10: In his fifth season of pro hockey, Zubarev established his role as a full-time defenseman – appearing in 55 regular season games for Atlant and scoring 7 goals wih 9 assists and was +11 with 58 PIM. He also played in four playoff games with no points and 2 PIM and an even plus/minus.
Zubarev is a solid defenseman and skates well with above average agility and acceleration. He is an above average puckhandler, but does not tend to keep the puck for long and hesitates to carry it up the ice. Zubarev has a strong shot but is not always accurate. He has an impressive physical component to his game.
Zubarev was thought to have second pairing potential in the NHL when the Thrashers selected him in the 2005 draft, a draft in which most teams shied away from Russians because of the belief that it would be difficult signing them to contracts. That fear seems to have been borne out with Zubarev, who seems unlikely to come to North America and content to play in the KHL. In terms of development, while Zubarev is a solid KHL player, his production has been inconsistent. In his junior days, there were thoughts that he would become a dominant offensive threat in addition to being a sound defender. That no longer seems to be the case. With other young prospects in the pipeline, it is hard to imagine the Thrashers pursuing Zubarev.