Less than three weeks ago, Nikita Zadorov had only played one game for the Buffalo Sabres in 2014-15. At the time, it seemed the best reason the Sabres had for keeping the 19-year-old for the rest of the season, as opposed to sending him back to junior, was the uncertainty surrounding his KHL rights.
Since then, however, Zadorov has played seven more games, while drawing rave reviews from coach Ted Nolan in the process.
As a result, the Sabres are reportedly inclined to keep Zadorov, with Nolan saying the 16th overall pick in the 2013 draft has “earned his keep.”
Based on Corsi, Zadorov has actually been the Sabres’ most effective defenseman in terms of possession. Nolan has protected the young blue-liner by giving him a large percentage of starts in the offensive zone compared to his teammates, but that’s to be expected.
“He was benched and scratched at the rookie camp at Traverse City,” Nolan said, per the Olean Times Herald. “So no one gave him the benefit of the doubt of making this team. We worked at it. We worked with him. Things are really working out.”