MANHATTAN BEACH, Calif. -- Nikita Zadorov is probably the most talked-about eighth defenseman in the NHL. Tonight, he moves up to seventh.
The Sabres rookie will make his season debut when Los Angeles hosts Buffalo in Staples Center. The visitors will go with seven defensemen and 11 forwards, with center Sam Reinhart taking a seat.
The Sabres kept the 19-year-old Zadorov around rather than return him to his junior team, but he was a healthy scratch during the first seven games.
"He’s been working pretty hard here lately," coach Ted Nolan told reporters today. "He’s eager to play, and maybe that little spark will help us.
"I never met a kid like him. He asks me every day, ‘Am I in, coach? Am I in, coach?’ You can tell he’s a young, eager player."
Reinhart skated 9:51 and took a hooking penalty Wednesday in Anaheim after being scratched during the previous game. He'll return Saturday in San Jose when the Sabres close their three-game California trip.
"Going back-to-back against some pretty big teams, give him a rest and put him back in against San Jose," Nolan said.