Dallas taps Zadorov as a future Star Defenseman adds size and physicality to blue line



FRISCO, Texas – The Dallas Stars are in the midst of yet another off-season of rebuilding a franchise that has seen more than its fair share of change. After failing to reach the post-season for the past five consecutive seasons, it’s hard to imagine what direction the organization will now take in order to try and right the ship.

The Stars went 22-22-4 (48 points) in the strike-shortened 2012-13 campaign after adding free-agent veterans Ray Whitney, Aaron Rome and Jaromir Jagr and trading fan favorite Steve Ott and Adam Pardy to the Buffalo Sabres for Derek Roy. The team had a 4-5-1 record after their first ten games and struggled with consistency, going 12-10-2 at the midpoint of the season.

As their struggles continued, the Stars bewildered fans with a series of trades beginning with popular right-winger Michael Ryder, who was traded to his former team, the Montreal Canadiens for Erik Cole. Other trades sent team captain Brendan Morrow to Pittsburgh, Derek Roy to the Vancouver, Jaromir Jagr to Boston and Tomas Vincour to Colorado.

The Stars went on a streak following the trade deadline, winning six of eight games, but once again began to falter. They dropped their final five games, which eliminated them from Playoff contention. The day after losing their final regular season game, the Stars fired their GM Joe Nieuwendyk, replacing him the following day with Jim Nill, the former assistant GM for the Detroit Red Wings. The team also dismissed head coach Glen Gulutzan and assistant coach Paul Jerrard but retained assistant coach Curt Fraser and goaltending coach Mike Valley. Nill hopes to name a new head coach before the 2013 NHL Entry Draft.

The Stars aren’t looking for a particular need to fill in this year’s draft although they have expressed interest at both center and defense. Given the likely talent available at the number 10 position, Russian defenseman Nikita Zadorov possesses a number of traits that are sure to put him on the Dallas radar.

An 18-year-old rookie in the Ontario Hockey League (selected by the London Knights 9th overall in the 2012 CHL Import Draft), the 6’ 5” 230-pound Moscow native combines a strong skating ability and physicality that will surely cause many onrushing forwards regret coming into the offensive zone.

Zadorov, along with 6’ 7”, 242-pound Stars prospect Jamie Oleksiak will make a formidable pairing on the blue line. Like Oleksiak, Zadorov skates very shows strong footwork, balance and mobility for his size, while thriving on physical play.

In his first season in North America, Zadorov tallied 25 points (6 G, 19 A, +33) and 54 penalty minutes in 63 games for the Knights. He added six points (2 G, 4 A) in 20 playoff games as London won the OHL championship. He also scored two goals in five games for London at the Memorial Cup and was named to the OHL First All-Rookie Team.

Zadorov uses his imposing size to dish out big hits and is fierce along the boards and in front of the crease. He’s not afraid to mix it up either.

Zadorov has the potential to become a solid two-way defenseman. He possesses good stickhandling skills, an effective wrist shot and a hard slap shot after a long wind-up. He has decent vision and passing skills and has shown a prowess for special teams. He enjoys the power play and likes to score goals. He’s a confident player, full of raw talent and skill and while he’ll surely need a few years to develop, he has the potential of becoming an elite NHL blueliner.

“With the 10th pick in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, the Dallas Stars select defenseman Nikita Zadorov.”

Contact the writer at robert.keith@prohockeynews.com

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