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Why Nikita Zadorov’s presence is already paying dividends: Canucks Conversation
2 months ago
On today’s episode of Canucks Conversation, David Quadrelli and Harman Dayal discussed Nikita Zadorov’s Canucks debut against his former team on Saturday night and took a broader look at the Canucks’ prospect pool.
Defenceman Nikita Zadorov was acquired by the Canucks last week from the Flames and played his first game against his former club on Saturday. Calgary fans filled the arena with boos every time he touched the puck, as the 28-year-old left some turmoil by requesting a trade away from the team earlier this season.
“It was a quiet, efficient, effective performance by him,” Harm said. “They were handily outplaying Calgary in the five-on-five minutes with him on the ice. He’s really aggressive at pinching in the offensive zone; there’s no space in the middle when he uses his skating and gaps up well. He didn’t make many mistakes, which is key, and it allowed the Canucks to manage the rest of the blue line’s minutes and ease everyone’s workload.”
Quads noted the performance by Ian Cole, who, with a lighter workload, played one of his best games as a Canuck. Vancouver out-chanced the Flames 7-2 with Cole on the ice, and the 34-year-old excelled in a refined role. Zadorov’s presence seems to be paying dividends just one game in.
“He isn’t just always in the right position, but as a defensive defenseman, he makes sound decisions,” said Harm. “Savvy with and without the puck. Before the Zadorov trade, he was averaging over twenty minutes a game for the first time in his career at the age of 34, so it’s going to be nice to be able to keep him fresh.”
The guys then recapped the game as a whole, with Elias Pettersson looking more like the player we saw earlier this year with a goal and an assist.
“A fantastic bounce-back game, the kind of game you’re hoping can springboard a player’s confidence,” said Quads. “Elias Pettersson looked like the best player on the ice, which I don’t think he has at any point in December; his best game in a month.”
“That line as a whole took over that game,” Harm replied. “Lafferty and Mikheyev were incredible. It was nice to see the Pettersson line playing the way we’ve been wanting them to play five on five, which is pummeling the opposition.”
The Canucks begin a 5-game homestand tomorrow night against the struggling New Jersey Devils, with all 3 Hughes brothers looking to play in the same game for the first time.
The guys moved on to talk about the Canucks’ prospects, notably 2023 3rd-round pick Hunter Brzustewicz, who, despite lighting up the OHL with the Kitchener Rangers, wasn’t picked for Team USA’s preliminary roster for the 2024 World Junior Championship. The 19-year-old defenseman has 46 points in 28 games, tied for second in the OHL.
“He’s a late riser,” Harm said. “Sometimes when you’re trying to make an international team, you don’t get the recognition you deserve. If you were mapping out a World Junior team in the summer, you wouldn’t have had him on the roster. You really have to account for the last two months to change your mind, and when it’s that recent, decision-makers can be slow to respond.”
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