Buffalo Sabres say Nikita Zadorov could stay ‘right until the 82-game cutoff’

The London Knights might have to take solace in knowing they were a springboard for Nikita Zadorov's rapid development.

In a simpler time, September 2013, there was a belief the Memorial Cup host team might be more likely to lose a forward to the big league than a defenceman. First it received word the Pittsburgh Penguins are committed to keeping the 19-year-old Olli Määttä. Now the Buffalo Sabres are indicating that Zadorov hasn't done anything to show he does not belong in the OHL.

From Bill Hoppe (@BillHoppeNHL):

Zadorov might be sticking with the Sabres all season.

The Russian rookie has impressed through five appearances. The Sabres can play him nine times before the first year of Zadorov’s entry-level deal kicks in.

“We could keep him right until the 82-game cutoff,” [Sabres coach Ron] Rolston said when asked if the Sabres would keep him beyond nine games. “Yeah, he’s been playing well. Would you send him down? He’s pretty good.”

The 16th overall pick has been averaging 16:34 an appearance. (Buffalo Hockey Beat)

Exactly what London wanted to hear with only 48 hours to go before the deadline for their season-ticket holders to buy Memorial Cup packages. I kid, I kid. Like London won't sell it out.

It's not entirely a surprise. Zadorov, during his first North American season, showed exceptional agility and grace for a player of his outsized dimensions. More often than not, one holds their breath with a 6-foot-5 import defenceman, expecting the height might be exaggerated by an inch or two and the skating might be rough. But Zadorov made good progress in London, where he benefited from having a long playoff run.

Nothing is final yet, of course, but it's hardly encouraging news from London's perspective.

Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Contact him at neatesager@yahoo.ca and follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet.