Nikita Zadorov was drafted 16th overall in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft by the Buffalo Sabres. He made his NHL debut the following season and appeared in seven games. After 67 games in two years with the organization that drafted him, Zadorov was sent to Colorado. Earlier this month, the Blackhawks traded for Zadorov in a deal that sent two-time Stanley Cup winner Brandon Saad to the Mile High City.
In 289 games over five seasons with the Avalanche, Zadorov recorded just 18 goals and 41 assists for 59 points. But what he lacked in point production, he made up for with his physical play. Zadorov has a career average of three hits per game. Last season, Connor Murphy led all Blackhawks with just over two hits per game.
As well as being physical, Zadorov has a knack for getting in front of shots. During the 2019-20 season, Zadorov was credited for blocking 66 shots, an average of over one shot block a game.
Zadorov's best season in the NHL came in 2017-18. That season, he played in 77 games and logged a career-high 20 points and 278 hits while averaging 19:28 in ice time. Since then, Zadorov's ice time has dropped to just over 17 minutes a game. The Blackhawks hope that a change in scenery will be exactly what Zadorov needs in order to return to his play of two years ago.
And lastly, when the going gets tough next season, as it inevitably will, Zadorov is exactly the type of player the Blackhawks need in their lineup. He is more than willing to stand up for his teammates.
He may not always be flashy, but Nikita Zadorov will surely make himself noticed each and every game by bringing his physicality to a team that is planning for a long, long season ahead.