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|Zadorov fitting in here just fine: Summer scouting report on Russian defenseman: "Very skilled, skates well"
16 августа 2015 года. Chambers, Mike. Denver Post
Former Avalanche defenseman John-Michael Liles is impressed with newly acquired Colorado defenseman Nikita Zadorov, a 20-year-old Russian with expectations as big as his 6-foot-5, 230-pound frame.
Zadorov has been skating with Liles, now with the Carolina Hurricanes, and other local NHL players including Paul Stastny (St. Louis), Tyler Bozak (Toronto) and Kyle Quincey (Detroit) in the Denver area during the past month. The group was at the University of Denver last week, participating in the Pioneers' annual alumni pro camp.
By all accounts, Zadorov has skill to complement his size, but his youth could be an issue.
Liles would know. He was a 22-year-old defenseman when he joined the Avalanche in 2003.
"He's a big kid, obviously very skilled, skates well," Liles said of Zadorov, who played in 67 NHL games with Buffalo over the past two seasons. "It will be interesting to see because at 20 years old it can be a daunting task to jump in when expectations are high. It's never easy playing D in this league."
Zadorov, whom the Avs have targeted to partner with Tyson Barrie on the second pairing, was acquired in the June 26 trade with Buffalo that sent forwards Ryan O'Reilly and Jamie McGinn to the Sabres. Colorado also received forward Mikhail Grigorenko, University of Michigan captain J.T. Compher and the first pick in the second round of the NHL draft June 27. The Avalanche traded that pick to San Jose for the 39th pick and two future selections.
In all, the Avs obtained six players in the deal, giving away two.
Zadorov is the marquee addition, although Grigorenko, 21, also is expected to stick with the Avs this season.
Colorado also added free-agent defenseman Francois Beauchemin from Anaheim to bolster the blue line. The Avs would like Beauchemin, 35, to partner with 2015 all-star selection Erik Johnson on the top pairing, with Barrie and Zadorov pegged to play similarly high minutes.
"There's always thoughts about who you'd like somebody to play with, but it's about chemistry too. If he and Tyson can get some good chemistry together, that will be huge," said Liles, who played four years at Michigan State before joining the Avs in his rookie professional season. "You can't teach size, that's for sure, and obviously you can see he's got a lot of really good tools."
Zadorov has secured a downtown Denver residence, and his training is continually monitored by the Avalanche strength and conditioning staff. He said he enjoys being in Denver.
"I like it. Kind of weird from the start because Buffalo is a smaller city and there's a different culture here," Zadorov said. "Up in the mountains, it's hard to breathe. Just different weather, and right now I'm just getting used to everything.
"It's kind of hard when you're moving to another city right away, but right now it's awesome. I got to know the city, got to know the people and I think it's a great city. Physically, I'm working out (off ice) every day and skating three times a week. I feel like I'm getting ready for a good season."
Zadorov said he has yet to meet any of his new teammates, but Tuesday he met the man he is replacing, Jan Hejda, 37, an unrestricted free agent. Zadorov figures to get time on the Avalanche power play. Hejda did not.
"It's my game. Two-way D. I can play offense, defense," Zadorov said.
Zadorov, who played two years of major junior for the Ontario Hockey League's London Knights, is fluent in English and has an outgoing personality. He's friendly and says he's thankful to be in North America.
"This camp is fun. Bunch of guys from NHL -- Bozak, Stastny, Quincey. It's fun, good competition all the time, guys working hard and battling," he said. "And thanks to the Denver University staff for skating with us, the coaches, and the managers for setting it all up."
Mike Chambers: email@example.com or twitter.com/mikechambers
On the brink
The Avalanche will have four signed 20- or 21-year-old defensemen vying for NHL playing time this season. Barring injuries or trades, only one will make the team out of training camp. Denver Post hockey reporter Mike Chambers ranks them:
1. Nikita Zadorov, age 20, 6-foot-5, 230 pounds
The Russian international is pegged to be among the top-four defensemen in training camp. Huge potential for the 2013 first-round draft pick by Buffalo.
2. Chris Bigras, 20, 6-2, 195
The Canadian standout was selected 16 slots after Zadorov in the 2013 draft (32nd overall) and was a junior star the past two seasons.
3. Duncan Siemens, 21, 6-3, 205
Drafted 11th overall in 2011, the Avalanche has waited patiently. But he could be a first-round bust.
4. Mason Geertsen, 20, 6-4, 212
The Avs drafted him in the fourth round in 2013. He was MVP of his junior team, the Vancouver Giants, last season.
Top young unsigned defensemen in the Avs' system: Will Butcher, 20; Kyle Wood, 19; and Nicolas Meloche, 18.