Defenseman Nikita Zadorov is in his first season with the Colorado Avalanche after being acquired with Mikhail Grigorenko, prospect JT Compher and draft picks from the Buffalo Sabres in a draft-day trade on June 26. The Moscow, Russia, native tallied 15 points (three goals and 12 assists) in 60 games as a rookie with Buffalo last season. Selected No. 16 overall by the Sabres in the 2013 draft, Zadorov helped the London Knights win the 2013 Ontario Hockey League championship and reach the Memorial Cup and won a bronze medal with his country at the 2014 IIHF World Junior Championship. The 6-foot-5, 220-pound rear guard recently spoke to ColoradoAvalanche.com about joining the club.
What were you thinking when you first heard that you were traded to Colorado?
“Lots of stuff. It was exciting to join such a great club with Patrick Roy and Joe Sakic, and it’s great to be here. It means a lot to me that this team wants to see me in the lineup and wants to see me for the future.”
Did you talk to Semyon Varlamov about what to expect this season before training camp began?
“Yeah, he’s a big guy who wants to win a Stanley Cup all the time, and he’s a great leader. He would say, ‘You guys are here to help us, and we have a great team.' He wants to win so bad.”
Was it nice being traded to Colorado with Mikhail Grigorenko?
“It’s always nice to be traded with your friend. We’ve been best friends for the last five years, so it’s great to have him here.”
You and Mikhail kind of grew up together in the Sabres organization, right?
“Yeah, plus we knew each other before in Russia. We played in juniors and on minor-league teams. Even though he was a year older than me, we always saw each other.”
How would you characterize your style of play as a defenseman?
“I’m a two-way player. I like offense the same as defense. First of all, I’m a defenseman. I get in front of players and don’t let them score, but any chance I can to help on the rush and help my team out on the power play, I will.”
How do you like Colorado so far?
“I like it. I liked Buffalo because you get the feel of the city and the area you are living in, and you have everything right around you. Same thing with Colorado. I have a place, and I'm set up and everything. It’s a great city with great people. It’s beautiful.”
You came to Colorado early this summer to start training, did you do anything fun out here between workouts?
“I saw my wife a couple times, watched movies and went golfing but nothing too much.”
Do you have a special pregame routine?
“Not really, but I try not to think about the game too much before it begins. I just like to start playing.”