Former Avalanche d-man John-Michael Liles has been getting an up-close look at new Avalanche d-man Nikita Zadorov.
The two players, along with some other NHLers, have been skating together in the Denver area during the offseason.
Liles, now a 34-year-old member of the Carolina Hurricanes, is curious to see what kind of an impact, if any, Zadorov can make with the Avs next season.
“He’s a big kid, obviously very skilled, skates well,” Liles said of Zadorov, per the Denver Post. “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 was drafted 16th overall by the Sabres in 2013. He was dealt to Colorado in June as part of the Ryan O’Reilly blockbuster trade.
“We really like the potential of Zadorov,” Avs GM Joe Sakic said after the trade, per NHL.com. “He’s could be a solid, solid [defenseman] for the next 10 years.”
The Avs can afford to be patient with the big blue-liner. Matt Duchene, Nathan MacKinnon, Gabriel Landeskog, and Tyson Barrie are all 24 years or younger, so it’s not like the clock is ticking loudly on their core.
Zadorov is also waiver exempt, raising the possibility he could be sent to the AHL next season.