BUFFALO – Sabres defenseman Nikita Zadorov is staying put. Coach Ted Nolan said this afternoon the 19-year-old Russian has earned a roster spot.
After playing seven straight games, including a 25-minute outing Thursday, it was assumed the Sabres would keep him.
“I try not to assume, but I’m more than positive he’s earned his keep,” Nolan said inside the First Niagara Center.
Tuesday’s tilt against the San Jose Sharks will be Zadorov’s ninth game. His contract activates with a 10th appearance.
Zadorov, the No. 16 pick in 2013, has endured a long road to regular duty. He had sat out all but one game before Nolan inserted him two weeks ago. The Sabres were essentially stashing him because they couldn’t send him back to junior.
“He was benched and scratched at the rookie camp at Traverse City,” Nolan said. “So no one gave him the benefit of the doubt of making this team. We worked at it. We worked with him. Things are really working out.”
In other news, Nolan said the Sabres will use the same lineup Tuesday that beat Toronto 6-2 on Saturday. Goalie Michal Neuvirth will start.
The Sabres have beaten the Sharks, one of the NHL’s top teams for years, seven straight times. They won in San Jose last month.
“I didn’t know about that record until somebody pointed it out our last game down in San Jose,” Nolan said. “For whatever reason, we just got the lucky breaks those nights.”