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Buffalo Sabres Top 25 Under 25: #9 - Nikita Zadorov

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Little Z has quickly become one of the most exciting prospects in the Sabres organization.

Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

Nikita Zadorov

Position: Defense

Age: 19

Height: 6'5"

Weight: 220 lbs.

Acquired: Taken in the 1st round (16th overall) in the 2013 draft

2013-14 team: Buffalo/London Knights (OHL)

Last year's ranking: 12

When you think about the reasons Sabres fans are excited for the future, Zadorov is pretty high on the list. He's huge, he's physical, and he showed last season that he can score too. You can't forget he's also still 19. He's still a bit raw, but once he gets everything together he has all the tools to be a tremendously successful NHL defenseman.

One of the two defenseman taken in the first round of last year's draft, Zadorov will forever be tied to Rasmus Ristolainen. Together they make of the dream first pairing of the future Sabres, a Kieth/Seabrook type pairing for the years of success. No pressure.

Zadorov got a chance to play with the Sabres right away last year, but was sent back to London before his nine game tryout period was over. Where he plays this year at the start of the season is still up in the air, but he may follow the same path he did this year. Zadorov showed a bit of his immaturity at development camp, including being a bit over aggressive to the point where he's out of position. He may not be ready for the NHL, and with the plan this season there's no rush to get him up.

Not very frequently do you see a 19-year-old who stands at 6'5" and 220 lbs. His size doesn't inhibit his ability to skate either. He projects as more of a shut down guy than Ristolainen, but has really worked at developing a booming shot. He's fun off the ice and he's mean on it. Zadorov is one of the most marketable faces of the Sabres future.

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