Why 6'5 defenseman Nikita Zadorov is excited to join the Hawks originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
It may be understandably hard for Blackhawks fans to see two-time Stanley Cup champion Brandon Saad leave Chicago again, but if it's any consolation, the biggest return in the trade with the Colorado Avalanche that sent Saad packing for a second time, Nikita Zadorov, seems genuinely thrilled to join the Hawks, plus adds a 6'5 frame to the blueline.
"I got a text from Patrick Kane right after I got traded. He said he’s really excited he doesn’t have to play against me anymore," Zadorov regaled Hawks media with on a Zoom call Monday.
The big blueliner already heard from Blackhawks head coach Jeremy Colliton as well. "He wants me to play big minutes. He wants me to bring things to the next level of shutdown D," Zadorov said.
The Blackhawks choosing to part with two-time Stanley Cup champion goalie Corey Crawford and go with young goaltenders will put the 25-year-old defenseman, who recorded 13 points (four goals, nine assists) in 64 games last season for the Colorado Avalanche, to the test.
The Windy City has always been a special place to Zadorov, and now he'll be happy to call it home.
"When I heard the news it was super exciting because Chicago is an Original Six team. It was a dream to play here, for sure," Zadorov said. "The first time I came to North America, it was Chicago, Illinois, and the first NHL game I saw live it was Chicago. I was 12 years old when we came for a tournament here when we were kids. Chicago was kind of part in my heart, part in my head as a hockey player because that was just the first experience for me in North America."
Zadorov is very much looking forward to playing in front of the big fan base where he saw his first NHL contest, although he may have gotten a taste of it in Colorado.
"Playing in the United Center... you’re pretty much playing in the United Center in Denver too — 75 % of the Blackhawks fans (are there) when we have a home game against them," he said.