Nikita Zadorov

Darren Walker

Zadorov is a big, fleet-footed monster on skates. The rookie Russian import wasted little time getting accustomed to the North American game, showing his moxy by dropping the gloves in each of his first two games played for the Knights. His toughness was evident from day one, but there’s more to his game. He has a very impressive stride for such a tall kid. Usually guys that have his size at his age are uncoordinated but Zadorov has been the exception to that. He has good speed as well as the ability to maintain good gaps against even the shiftiest of opponent. His speed coupled with his size is a menace to stop when he decides to grab the puck and go coast-to-coast, which he does at least once per game. Those rushes lead many to believe he has untapped offensive potential to be a game changer not only defensively or with a big hit but also on the offensive side of the game. His decision making and timing in those rushes are still a work in process but you love to see the aggressiveness. Zadorov steps up quickly and is very capable of playing the puck. This area of his game has grown by leaps and bounds this season. He can make a solid first pass out of his zone, and is a willing contributor in the transition game, skating very well with the puck on his stick. His shot is strong and he finds open lanes to get it through on net but he instinctively looks to distribute before getting his own shot off. He has made some devastating hits this season and steps up on opponents with good stealth catching them prone. Zadorov does not pick his targets based on size as he will hit everyone. Defensively, his game is raw but impressive as he uses his wing span and large frame to close off lanes. (May 2013)