The Sabres drafted Nikita Zadorov in June. ©2013, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres sign first-round pick Nikita Zadorov to 3-year, entry-level deal

BUFFALO – The Sabres have signed defenseman Nikita Zadorov, the 16th overall pick in June, to a three-year, entry-level contract, the club announced this afternoon.

The 18-year-old, a hulking 6-foot-5 and 220 pounds, has impressed this training camp, compiling a goal and a plus-4 rating in three appearances.

The Sabres could keep the Russian on their roster when the regular season begins next week.

“Watching Nikita throughout training camp and the preseason has solidified our opinion that he will be a good, young hockey player for our organization going forward,” Sabres general manager Darcy Regier said in a statement. “He has exceptional presence on the ice and we look forward to seeing him continue to develop as a player.”

Check back later for more on Zadorov, who isn’t scheduled to play tonight against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Zadorov had six goals, 25 points, 54 penalty minutes and plus-33 rating in 63 games last season with the Ontario Hockey League’s London Knights.

Update: Regier spoke about the signing during the first intermission. It sounds like Zadorov will likely go back to junior.

“The intention all along was to try to get him signed,” Regier said. “I think if you can deal with it in his first year and get it out of the way, then they can focus on playing the game.”

Regier also said: “He would be going back to London, arguably one of the top junior teams in the Canadian Hockey League. They host the Memorial Cup next year, so that means he’s playing deep into the spring. But he’s performed well here, too, so we’ll that conversation over the next few days.”

Related: Sabres grab defensemen early to start busy draft day, only pull off minor trade

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