Zadorov BOS best chance to win

BRIGHTON, Mass. -- Nikita Zadorov is excited to join a team with Stanley Cup aspirations after signing a six-year, $30 million contract ($5 million average annual value) with the Boston Bruins on July 1.

“I want [to have] my best chance to win a championship,” Zadorov said Monday. “I’m really [invested] in what I do, and I’m putting all my heart into everything, and right now I’m here for six years and I want to put my heart into [being] a Bruin and to try to win a Stanley Cup in here.”

Zadorov had 20 points (six goals, 14 assists) in 75 games between the Calgary Flames and Vancouver Canucks last season, and eight points (four goals, four assists) in 13 Stanley Cup Playoff games with Vancouver.

A first-round pick by the Buffalo Sabres (No. 16) at the 2013 NHL Draft, Zadorov has 146 points (47 goals, 99 assists) in 642 regular-season games with the Sabres, Colorado Avalanche, Chicago Blackhawks, Flames and Canucks, and 19 points (eight goals, 11 assists) in 58 playoff games.

If the Bruins do win the Stanley Cup in the coming seasons, Zadorov almost certainly will play a key role.

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“The presence that ‘Z’ brings is important to us,” Boston general manager Don Sweeney said July 1. “Playing a lot of top-four minutes in the playoffs against top guys comes with a bit of swagger. He has certainly seen his game grow and probably get a little more defined in what he's capable of doing.”

Zadorov’s ties to Boston go far back in his NHL career. His first goal came against the Bruins in just his second NHL game with the Sabres, on Oct. 23, 2013. Boston won 5-2, but Zadorov chuckled at the memory of his new captain, Brad Marchand, being on the ice for his goal.

Marchand, forward David Pastrnak and defenseman Charlie McAvoy were among the first to reach out to Zadorov after he signed.

“‘Marchy’ was on the ice. He took a minus, so I’m going to let him know,” Zadorov said.

Zadorov also has worked with Boston coach Jim Montgomery in the past, when Montgomery was coaching for the University of Denver and Zadorov played for the Avalanche. Montgomery would host NHL players to skate with the Pioneers during the offseason, and Zadorov got a strong impression of his future coach.

But Zadorov is most familiar with center Elias Lindholm, who also signed with Boston on July 1 (seven years, $7.75 million AAV). The two played together with the Flames and Canucks during the past three seasons.

Lindholm, 29, had 44 points (15 goals, 29 assists) in 75 games between the Flames and Canucks last season. In 2021-22, he had 82 points (42 goals, 40 assists) in 82 games and was plus-61 for Calgary, playing alongside Johnny Gaudreau and Matthew Tkachuk and finishing second to former Bruins center Patrice Bergeron for the Frank J. Selke Trophy as the best defensive forward in the NHL.

“It definitely helps when your friend signs with the same team as well,” Zadorov said of Lindholm. “I’m excited for him. … He’s a really good addition and I’m excited to have him on my team, for sure.”

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