By Mike Harrington
NEWARK, N.J. -- The numbers are all over the place on Nikita Zadorov depending on what Web site you look at, but I can vouch he's a big boy. So after he was done with his initial press conference as an NHLer, I returned to ask the 18-year-old Russian how big he was. He told me flat-out the Buffalo Sabres drafted a 6-foot-5 1/2, 225-pounder with their second pick in the first round today.
The highlight of his self-analysis: "I really like to hit."
Zadorov spoke no English when he came to Canada last fall to play for London in the OHL. But he learned the language, as you can see, and made a major impact with the Knights. Zadorov led OHL rookies with a plus-33 rankings and finishing second among rookie defensemen with 25 points (6-19). The Knights won the league title with 50 wins, 105 points and Zadorov also had a game-winning goal against Saskatoon in the Memorial Cup.
A roommate of Sabres center Mikhail Grigorenko during the World Junior Championships, Zadorov said Grigorenko wished him luck before he headed to New Jersey.
"He said, 'I'll be happy if you go to the Sabres' and I'm in the Sabres shirt right now so I think he's happy."
Zadorov is a project who's not expected to be NHL-ready next season. He said he came to London to learn the NHL game and the KHL is not on his radar.
"From playing in Russia, it's not like a physical game," he said. "Here in Canada, everybody plays physical and play against you stride for stride. You should be ready every second. I want to play in the NHL. It's my dream."
Click below for his session with reporters.
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