ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Nikita Zadorov's first choice, of course, would be to play for the Sabres. But he's stuck at eighth on the defense depth chart, and a spot in the lineup doesn't seem to be in his immediate future.
So, with that in mind, would the 19-year-old rather practice with the Sabres or play for his junior team?
"Playing somewhere," Zadorov said today.
The defenseman continued to practice with the Sabres and was one of the last players off the ice in the The Rinks Anaheim Ice. It's still unclear if he'll remain with Buffalo to skate or return to London of the Ontario Hockey League to play.
"I don’t think it’s my choice," Zadorov said. "It’s not my job to make the decision with all that. I’m going to be there when they’re going to tell me to be. I’m going to keep working hard, keep playing hard. It doesn’t matter where.
"For me, it’s kind of hard. I think it’s hard for every player just to practice. Every player wants to play. I’m just going to keep working hard and wait for an opportunity."
The Sabres have kept Zadorov after wondering whether the 6-foot-5, 238-pounder was too big for juniors. His agent, Rolland Hedges, told The News last week the Sabres had the option of letting Zadorov play in Russia's Kontinental Hockey League, but the NHL says that's not the case because of its collective bargaining agreement with the Canadian Hockey League, the parent of the OHL.
"Under the terms of our existing agreement with the CHL, the club is obligated to loan the player back to his CHL club," a league spokesman said in an email. "The team has no other option."