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Draft Profile: Nikita Zadorov

by Chris Lund / Ottawa Senators

They say you can’t teach size and, from that, we can conclude that London Knights defenceman Nikita Zadorov has a lot that cannot be taught.

Zadorov, a 6-foot-5, 230 pound rearguard, was a rock on the blueline for the Knights during their 2012-13 OHL Championship season. He didn’t post big numbers with six goals and 19 points in 63 games by virtue of his shutdown style, but Zadorov was a key part of the Knights season nonetheless, posting a plus-33 over that span for his efforts.

For a player his size, Zadorov moves much better than you may anticipate and he uses both to his advantage. Not only does he help get the puck heading up ice by chasing down opposing forwards and using his long reach to his advantage. What’s more frightening is Zadorov’s willingness to step up with the intention of throwing the big hit. Anytime a defenceman his size can raise a team’s snarl factor, they are an asset.

Zadorov’s primary weakness is his play with the puck. While he is a quality passer, his shot leaves much to be desired and he does not look comfortable carrying the puck on his stick. Despite his first year of North American hockey being a success in London, he’ll still have adjusting to do as the pace quickens and the space diminishes further from what he is familiar with.

As things stand Zadorov appears to project as a quality shutdown defenceman at the next level, though if his puck skills continue to improve its not inconceivable that he become more of a two-way talent. His size, mobility and general aggression will lend themselves to a high selection, it’s just a matter of how high his ceiling goes from there.

Expect Zadorov to be drafted by a team in the first half of round one.

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