Despite Nikita Zadorov being the new kid on the Colorado block, he will do whatever it takes to help the Avalanche win the Stanley Cup.
From a draft day trade with the Buffalo Sabres, Zadorov joined the burgundy and blue on June 26 along with Mikhail Grigorenko and prospect JT Compher (as well as draft picks) in exchange for Ryan O’Reilly and Jamie McGinn.
“[It was] really, really exciting to join such a big club,” Zadorov said about his reaction to being traded to the Avs. “It’s a great organization with Patrick [Roy] and Joe [Sakic] up top. Great people, and I just can’t wait to play for them.”
Since his move to Denver, Zadorov has settled into his new home in the community and began the process of acclimating to the altitude.
“It’s different, not as cold, but I’ve got a place and am getting a good feeling for the city,” he said at the beginning of camp. “I really like it. It’s beautiful here.”
Though, he admitted the altitude of 5,280 feet above sea level got to him in the beginning.
“The first couple of weeks were a little tough,” Zadorov said about adjusting to his workouts in the thin air of the Mile High City. “When I started working out, I was like, it was hard to breathe. Right now, I feel awesome.”
It was a long offseason for Zadorov, who played his last game of the season with Buffalo in early April. Now that the Avalanche has finally begun preparing for the 2015-16 season, he is utilizing every moment to ensure he has an NHL roster spot at the start of the campaign.
“Doesn’t matter what you are doing on the ice, you are working hard,” he said about his training routine.
At the conclusion of the first day of camp, Roy was impressed with Zadorov’s physicality, size and the presence he had while skating on the ice, attributes he said the franchise is excited about.
The Burgundy/White Game will be the first opportunity for fans to see what the 6-foot-5, 220-pound defenseman has to offer in a real-game situation.
“I am really excited to finally get out on the ice and play,” he said about the upcoming intra-squad scrimmage. “Tomorrow is going to be more fun with the fans, and everyone is going to look at you and what you’re going to do so I hope I play well.”
The Moscow, Russia, native feels comfortable playing at the NHL level, as he appeared in 67 games over the span of two seasons with the Sabres, tallying 16 total points (four goals and 12 assists). Zadorov was Buffalo’s first-round pick (No. 16 overall) in the 2013 NHL Draft.
“I’m playing in front of 20,000 fans every night, so you can’t be nervous when you are playing in the NHL,” he said. “At this level, you’re just doing what you love. If you like to play hockey, you just go out on the ice and are feeling great.”
While Zadorov has only skated two days with the franchise, he said he feels that his style of play will blend well with Colorado’s systems. As a self-proclaimed two-way defenseman, the 20-year-old wants to show others that he can play offense just as well.
“I don’t like to dump the puck,” Zadorov said. “A physical game is my goal. I like to hit, and I think you guys know I can do that. I know this team. I know Patrick wants to play offensively all the time and move the puck forward, pass to forwards, join the rush and power play. I’m trying to do my best.”
With size on his side and a full professional season under his belt, Zadorov is confident that he will assume a permanent role on Colorado’s roster with his ability to perform at an elite level.
“Just try to be [the] best all the time,” Zadorov said about his goals for the upcoming season. “I’m just going to play my game and improve myself every time and just keep going forward. For the team, it’s a Stanley Cup.”
Those goal of being a top defenseman and obtaining the silver prize will hopefully come sooner rather than later.