The Chicago Blackhawks have traded bruising defender Nikita Zadorov as the trade deadline approaches Monday afternoon. This move comes as Chicago fights for a spot in the Central Division playoff race. The return from the Calgary Flames is a 2022 third-round pick owned by Toronto. Elliotte Friedman reported the trade Wednesday morning.
Looks like it’s being consummated now https://t.co/nFes8Fy7Ih
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) July 28, 2021
Blackhawks Trade Nikita Zadorov
Zadorov remains a fine, if unexciting defender at this stage of his career. The 25-year-old Russian has just one goal and seven points in 42 games while averaging 18:51 per game. He also has 139 hits and 57 blocks. Perhaps more important is the drop is his primary possession stat. Zadorov’s Corsi For was 49.8 percent last year, but is only 46.6 percent in 2020-21. That won’t work for someone who starts in the defensive zone roughly 60 percent of the time.
The Buffalo Sabres originally drafted Zadorov with the 16th selection in the 2013 Draft. He was mostly a secondary defender for them for two years before he went to the Colorado Avalanche in 2015 as part of the huge Ryan O’Reilly trade. Overall, the 6’5″ Russian has 23 goals and 82 points in 398 games along with 1185 hits and 457 blocks. He may not leap out as an impact defender, but there is plenty of time to reach a new threshold with so few games to this point in his career.
What This Means for the Future
Zadorov has yet another opportunity to prove himself worthy of a regular top-four spot on a blue line. His last few seasons have been disappointing, but most reams still value having at least one aggressive forechecking defender on the roster. He can still hit if nothing else.
This trade also does two things for Chicago. First, it allows them to rely even more on young defenders to see what they have in the system for 2021-22. Second, it gives them one less contract to worry about as they make decisions on other pending free agents including Pius Suter and Alexander Nylander. The team still has some gaps to fill for its next competitive roster, but they have slowly rebuilt a young group that may become a new championship-calibre core after their trades in recent years.
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