Why Nikita Zadorov Needs to Return to the OHL

Nikita Zadorov has excited a lot of people with his play on the blueline early this season and while he’s shown flashes of a bright future the Buffalo Sabres need to send him back to the OHL for the remainder of the season.

We’ll start with the most obvious reason’s why Nikita Zadorov needs to go back to the London Knight’s in the OHL. The first

Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

reason is Ron Rolston. If you’re going to burn a year of Zadorov’s contract yet keep him in the press box for the majority of the season then whats the point? Before last night’s game Zadorov had been a healthy scratch for 3 of the 4 previous games. Rolston wants young guys like Zadorov and Rasmus Ristolainen and Mikhail Grigorenko to learn by watching the game, but the best way for these young guys to learn is on the ice battling every night. If you’re not going to play Zadorov regularly then send him back to the Knights where he can be on the top defencive pair and challenge for a championship, further developing his game. No point keeping him trapped in the press box and burning a year on his contract when they have an option in the OHL for Zadorov.

Yes Nikita Zadorov is an exciting player to watch and his hits are electrifying but he still has a lot to learn before he’s ready for a full-time stint in the NHL and the best place for him to learn that is in the OHL. It’s much easier to learn when you’re apart of a winning team and the London Knights are a team that is competitive every season and with Dale Hunter running the ship the kids on that team walk a straight line. Zadorov is playing with that rookie zeal going for the big hit every shift and joining the rush, and while it’s exciting to see him hit, when he goes for a big hit he usually ends up out of position. The big hits are great but he needs to learn and understand that there is a time and a place for the big hits, what comes first is defencive play. What good is a big hit if you just take yourself out of the play and the opposition still scores? Zadorov has 25 hits but is a -4 in his 7 games and has just 1 point.

It’s important to make sure a player is developed and ready to play in the NHL, especially a defencemen. Everyone remembers Tyler Myers jaw dropping, Calder winning rookie season, but Myers game dropped off immensely since his rookie year. Then you look at Mark Pysyk, a player who the Sabres took their time in developing and see him playing this season; he’s very mature and confident in his game. Zadorov is just 18 years old and needs to develop and mature as a defenceman. With everything Zadorov has shown in his 6 games this season there is no doubt he has all the ability and skill to be a top notch shutdown defencemen in the future. He’s going to be a punishing defencemen to play against, but he has to learn to reign in his game just a little.

Nikita Zadorov has such a bright future that keeping him around the Sabres this season could be a detriment to his game. The environment in the dressing room and on the ice has to be brutal, especially for a rookie. The Sabres have a losing attitude and atmosphere, having rookies exposed to that is not the right way to develop them when they have a chance to be successful back in the OHL. Don’t let him get accustomed to a losing team or he’s going to start playing like losing is okay since the Sabres seem to be okay with it. Chances are Dale Hunter will teach and develop him more in the OHL than Rolston will in the NHL.

If Rolston is just going to sit Zadorov more often than not there is no reason to let him rot in the press box. You want Zadorov to develop either play him or send him to the OHL where he will be one of the top defencemen. Let him fully develop his game both on defence and offence before calling him to the NHL full time, let him mature. Surround him with a winning team and environment instead of the losing one in Buffalo. If the Buffalo Sabres want to preserve/see him further develop into the defenceman he can be then they need to send Nikita Zadorov back to the London Knights.

Topics: Buffalo Sabres, Defence, NHL, Nikita Zadorov

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  • Jes

    Agreed CC. Zadorov has been nothing short of awesome this season. But honestly I do not want to waste the first year of his contract on a season like this. Plus the amount of time he spends in the press box for no real reason is not helping his development. I’m not totally on board with Rolston’s coaching methods so that’s another reason to send him on down as well.

    While we are on the subject should the Sabres send down Grigorenko? He’s shown vast improvement in the final 3 games he has played. So I don’t know, what are your thoughts?

    • Vic Soga

      Jes and Caitlin. Why should the rookies suffer because of lack of quality NHL coaching and management. Ask Matt Moulson! The person to blame is Mr Pegula for spending too much times across the street. I dread losing this Friday to the Leafs 6-2 after they score 4 PP goals.

      • Vic Soga

        Randy Cunneyworth, have you got your skates sharpened? Or maybe they should hire Dale and Mark Hunter as coach and general manager respectively so that Zadorov doesn’t have to come back to my hometown London?

        • Dano

          Dale Hunter would be an EXCELLENT Coach for someone like Zadarov! A Nasty and very questionable player whom decided Pierre Turgeon needed to meet the boards during a victory celebration! LOVED IT!

          With Zadarovs size and his aggressiveness.. if he could be shown the dirty areas of play and how to get away with taking it to opposing teams.. Imagine what Hunter could do with a kid like Foligno’s size and skills! Even Tropp would benefit!

          Dale Hunter.. 3500+ PIMS, second all time in the leagues history.. we NEED a guy like that behind the bench!

          No, Im NOT joking!

          • qwicwted

            Didn’t Dale Hunter take over for the Caps and decided not to resign as head coach. I would mind bringing back Nolan or bringing in Maurice, Boucher or Laviolette. I just think Rolston is way over his head.

          • Dano

            Yep. He did and made it to the second round of the playoffs? ( I think it was the 11/12 season? ) he didnt start the season as the Caps coach but took over after 20 games or something ( I dunno the exact numbers, Im not one to look every stat up, just go off the top of my head ;) ).

            Hunter wouldnt work well with Regier. Like Randy Carlyle, he doesnt like a team of pansies and wouldnt have problem,s with a team standing up for itself, something which the league doesnt presently want.

            Lavi? Forget him. Hes a wussie! If he couldnt do it on Philly will all the talent that was there, he couldnt get out of the gate with what this team has ( basically nothing ) .

            I agree though, Rolston doesnt know what to do and is in too deep for what he knows.

          • Joe Mazurkiewicz

            Bring back Laaaaaa Laaaaaa Laaaaaaa LaFontaine!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

          • Joe Mazurkiewicz

            And everybody raggs on Kaleta!!!!!!!

      • [email protected]

        Out of curiosity, I wonder how much it cost the taxpayers of Buffalo for his building across the street. I am willing to guess there is some sort of tax break/deduction or plain cash infusion from the citizens of Buffalo.

        • Vic Soga

          Joey, you are probably right about the tax break/deduction or cash infusion. Will there be a tax break on property taxes across the street? Remember Mr Pegula still has a long waiting list for season’s tickets. Also he will raise season ticket prices by 5% again next year.
          In Toronto, not only do they increase season ticket prices, they increase our cable prices. Rogers and Bell own the Leafs and Raptors and Rogers own the Blue Jays. Double whammy.

          • Jes

            While we are on the subject of the Harbor Center I seen that commercial that plays some parts of a news conference and I was just wondering why is Kevyn Adams in charge of bringing in top notch coaches? LOL am I not hearing that commercial correctly? Kevyn Adams should be the last one in charge of that.

          • [email protected]

            Well, the Sabres used to be owned by the same family that owned Adelphia Cable. The Sabres were seized from Adelphia/Sabres owner John Regas by the NHL when Regas and Sons were arrested for corruption. I know they were cooking the books and using the Sabres to funnel money to themselves. I can’t find any info saying that they raised ticket prices in order to funnel more money for their personal use, but I would guess that any increase played a part.
            I posted a screen shot of a slide from a powerpoint done by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants showing how they used the Sabres to move money around. Crazyness.

      • Caitlin Campbell

        That’s a good question- why make anyone on the roster suffer because of the coaching. The rookies sadly enough can find better coaching in the OHL and AHL respectively, it would be better to let them play elsewhere and develop.
        If we lose badly to the Leafs living in Toronto will be tough lol

      • Jes

        Sending them down at this point won’t make them suffer in anyway just make them better all around players for next year. Grigorenko and Zadorov won’t learn much sitting on the bench every 2nd game. On the subject of Zadorov we can help him and us at the same time. We have Ruhwedel and McNabb in Rochester waiting for there shot, what better time?

        @caitlincampbell:disqus

        Man that’ll suck. I know how you kind of feel I guess. When the ‘Nucks beat up on the Swords earlier this season was a bad day for me. You going to the game in TO or Buffalo?

    • Caitlin Campbell

      The Sabres can not afford to screw up the confidence of Zadorov by having him in the press box despite his strong play. Yes he’s young and has to learn but the press box is not the place when he’s playing well.

      Grigorenko has shown improvement. I still think you have to move him up off the 3rd/4th line and see what he could do with someone like Moulson or Foligno. Give the kid a chance. That being said the way they’ve jerked the kid around the last two season’s sending him to the Q might help his confidence

  • davidmuscalo

    I agree, but with Regier sending veterans to other teams to get more draft picks, he needs to stock the Sabres with players. Remember, he said it would be painful.

    Trying to fit a round peg into a square never works and neither does taking raw rookies and expecting them to learn while trying to compete with seasoned pros.

    • Caitlin Campbell

      exactly and I’m worried a lot of the rookies are going to get extremely frustrated because neither themselves or their team can compete against most teams. Zadorov needs more time to develop before being asked to play the role he’s trying to play

      • Andrew

        The youngsters on the 90-91 Nordiques survived.

        • Caitlin Campbell

          But check out the Sabres track record with youngsters as of late and the coaching…

          • Andrew

            Which is exactly why DR and LR needed to go when TP took over. Can you imagine where we might be today with a diff GM, coach, and the right FA signings?

    • Joe Mazurkiewicz

      F DR!!!!!!!!

  • Kevin

    I agree and disagree. I agree he should go back and be taught more things under a winning program. I disagree with the fact that it will only hurt a young dman to sit in the press box for a couple of games. It gives him a better perspective on what is going on down on the ice and hopefully learn where he should be in certain situations on the ice and learn from that.

    • Caitlin Campbell

      A couple of games is fine but 3 of the last 4… will this pattern continue all season?

  • acpilkin

    You know, I liked Rolston coming into the season… but I really don’t like him now. The handling of both veterans AND rookies leads me to believe there has to be someone better for the job. While I love the kid’s play, another year in the OHL won’t hurt him one bit. Just do it now. No need to waste the first year of his contract.

    • Caitlin Campbell

      exactly no need to burn a year on the contract- get him away from Rolston as fast as possible

  • Dano

    Zadorov is one of the FEW players that I actually find worthy of watching in the last few games. Could he use another year of development? Sure. Looking at the whole F-ing team.. they ALL could use time in development .

    The Coach, Owner and managers could use some development.. Someone should ‘ Gordie ‘ them, might straighten them out.

    • Caitlin Campbell

      that’s a good point Dano, they could ALL use some more development.

    • [email protected]

      All the development is happening across the street, at the Harbor Center. Hey, property development is better than no development….right?!?

  • qwicwted

    Well whether they decide to keep Zadorov up or send him down – they need to change their headcoach real soon. Now that Ramsay is available, let’s bring him home. Rolston really needs to go.

    • Andrew

      There’s no guarantees Ramsay wants to come back.

      I think they looked for other options in the offseason, but had to go with RR

      • Caitlin Campbell

        They didn’t look for any other options this offseason. They interviewed 0 other coaches….

        • Andrew

          That doesn’t mean other coaches didnt turn down interviews…You know that DR mentioned something to Roy…

          • Timothy Redinger

            Roy was able to witness first hand the incompetency of this organization under Darcy Regier- he was the head coach that watched them fumble through Grigorenko’s first season.

          • Andrew

            That’s why he probably laughed at the idea.

            I’m not convinced that there’s ANY coaches out there that could do anything with the product on the ice right now.

          • qwicwted

            I believe Roy was already zero’d in on CO. So, I think we need to think outside the box – Laviolette – who has been a Sabre killer at times (Stanley Cup, Playoffs) or maybe bring back Ted Nolan – I want us to be the “hardest working team in the league”. To be honest, Rolston is killing me.

    • Caitlin Campbell

      Yes a coaching change is a must

    • wolfdoctor

      Craig Ramsay had a coaching stint here with a far superior team. His coaching record was 4-15-2. I’d rather bring Ted Nolan back, next year or even 2 years from now.

      • Joe Mazurkiewicz

        YES YES YES!!!!!!! NOLAN DID MORE WITH LESS!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • wolfdoctor

    It would be better for Zadorov to send him back to London. Better to play there than to sit in the press box here. At the same time the Sabres should call up McNabb. IMO, the Sabres have no long term plans for McNabb, so if the Sabres want to trade him, they’d get more for him if he was playing in the NHL rather than the AHL.

    • Caitlin Campbell

      I agree McNabb is not in the long-term plans. Call him up, showcase him and then deal him

      • wolfdoctor

        Yes

  • Joe Mazurkiewicz

    Anybody notice what MICHAEL PECA is doing with the Jr.Sabres?????????????

    • Caitlin Campbell

      No I didn’t, heck I didn’t even know he was there

      • Joe Mazurkiewicz

        Buffalo Jr. Sabres QMJ

  • Joe

    Based on ur argument. None of our rookies should be on the roster. Send flynn girgensons grigorenko risto larsoom and all back to the ahl so they are not part of a learning atmosphere. All zadarov will learn in the ohl is how easy he can make the big hits on those guys. And you use pysyk as an example ad zadarov is almost as good as him already. Y not pair yp risto and zadarov and let them learn together as they coudl easily be our top 2 defenseman in the mext 2-3 yrs. let them learn from a guy like tallinder while we still have him

    • Caitlin Campbell

      I don’t think either Zadorov and Ristolainen should be on the roster honestly. Flynn is doing just fine and so are Girgensons and Larsson because they are more developed. Tallinder has not been a good example this season I wouldn’t want them paying too much attention to him.

      • Joe

        First off i didnt say paya ttention to tallinder i said learn from him theres a difference. Second i was talking about ur argument on that its bad for a rookie to be in this atmosphere and thatsby he shouldnt be here. Based on that argument none of our rookies should be on the roster right now

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