Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images.

The book is not out yet on London Knights blueliner Nikita Zadorov.

A few chapters have been written, but mostly the towering Russian-born import is only just scratching the surface of his potential.

He has made encouraging progress since the start of the season however, and continued to improve with each passing game during his contributions to London’s 24-game winning streak.

Yet, despite leading the Knights with a plus-31 rating, tied for third overall in the league, Zadorov is still very much a ‘work in progress’ defensively, according to McKeen’s Head Scout David Burstyn, whose following scouting observations have been compiled from six separate game viewings.

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Nikita Zadorov (D, 2013), London

Invited by Team Russia for the under-20 world juniors, only to be released just before the start of the tournament .. the Moscow native had participated in every major event for his country dating back to the 2012 World U17 Hockey Challenge .. offensive decision making has improved in leaps and bounds – and he is slowly becoming more of a force in transition .. logs the puck up ice with authority, exploiting an expansive frame as well as massive strides that simply swallow up ice .. partnered early in the season with Olli Maatta, which provided more security to venture into the offensive zone knowing his defensive duties were covered, however recently has been paired with deadline acquisition Justin Sefton .. jumps into the rush with more regularity and is taking an extra second with the puck to evaluate his options .. his skating and athleticism allow him to recover rapidly .. surprisingly smooth and agile for such a tall man – exploits quick pivots in order to transition from offence to defence in an instant .. his defensive play is an area that continues to be a work in progress however .. suffers sudden and complete lapses in judgement at random times .. rarely ever awarded any penalty-killing time as his positioning and shift-to-shift’ decision making continues to impede his development .. doesn’t always read a cycle very well down low defending his own zone, and can over-commit to the puckcarrier which forces teammates out of position to compensate .. struggles when pressured and will respond by often rushing decisions .. must work on making stronger and better clearing attempts .. steadily learning to exploit his footwork in 1-on-1 coverage – as he has improved his gap control and timing to administer hits against quick players .. will need to do a better job of establishing position in front of his net as he can allow players to slips in behind him .. physically assertive – not a mean head-hunter type, however when he does connects the opponent is usually (completely) eliminated from the play.

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