2010-11: Nikita Zadorov skated for the CSKA-Moscow U16 and U17 teams and played for Russia in the U16 Four Nationals tournament. In 45 games he scored 5 goals with 22 assists and had 62 penalty minutes. In five games in the Russian (U17) championship he had 2 assists and was plus-four with 4 penalty minutes.
2011-12: Zadorov played for CSKA-Red Army in Russia’s MHL (U22 minor league) as a 16-year-old and represented Russia in the U17 World Hockey Challenge and 2012 U18 World Junior Championship. He scored 2 goals with 4 assists and was plus-20 with 63 penalty minutes in 41 regular season games and in eight playoff games was plus-two with 8 penalty minutes. He skated in six games at the WHC and had 3 assists with 12 penalty minutes. In six games at the U18 WJC he scored 2 goals and was plus-four. Zadorov was selected by the London Knights (OHL) in the 1st Round (ninth overall) in the 2012 CHL Import Draft.
2012-13: Zadorov was one of the top defenseman for a London Knights team that finished with the Ontario Hockey League’s best record. In 63 regular season games he was plus-33 and scored 6 goals with 19 assists; amassing 54 penalty minutes. Zadorov was a candidate for Russia’s U20 team but was not selected for the team that competed in Ufa. He was ranked 30th among North American skaters in Central Scouting’s mid-term rankings prior to the 2013 NHL Draft, and 22nd in the CSS final rankings.
Zadorov is the not-so-gentle giant on the Knights’ blueline. He’s a personable kid off the ice, but certainly one that you wouldn’t want to mess with on it. Zadorov had an up-and-down year with the Knights this season as he seemed to be searching for an identity.
At 6’5 and over 230 pounds, the Moscow-born Zadorov has the physicality to dominate. And, at times, his zeal to lay out his opponents with the big hit can take him out of the play. But as the year progressed, Zadorov learned to reign in his physicality and became a much more effective stay-at-home blueliner.
He has a solid shot, but doesn’t project as a number-one blueliner. However, he should fit very nicely on a top pairing as the defensively responsible, crease-clearer for whom so many teams are looking.
Zadorov is not expected to play in the NHL this year though a good camp may force the Sabres to think twice. Instead, Zadorov will most likely return to the London Knights to further acclimate himself to the North American game. He is still scratching the surface of what he can do, especially offensively.