While doing a little research on the 2013 draft class I came across Nikita Zadorov. The 17 year old Russian-born defenseman is playing his first North American season for the London Knights of the OHL. Despite not being a legal adult in the eyes of many countries, Zadorov clocks in at 6′ 5″ and 229 lbs. Many pundits see Zadorov’s stock rising and Brendan of Dobber Prospects sees him as a top 10 talent that could be the first OHL defenseman taken in 2013. If the Tampa Bay ends up in a similar draft position (10th overall or so), could Zadorov be on their radar?
Of course he could and he probably is. The young man has certainly made an impression and he’s likely on the radar for all 30 teams. But there may just be an extra layer to all of this: Steve Yzerman’s nefarious plot to revive the Russian Five in Tampa Bay.
For anyone who is unfamiliar, the Detroit Red Wings and Scotty Bowman famously iced an entire line of Russians during the mid 90s – Slava Kozlov, Igor Larionov, Sergei Fedorov, Slava Fetisov, and Vladimir Konstantinov. As a young man growing up in Michigan, Steve Yzerman’s Red Wings and the Russian Five are very memorable (my Dad has one of these in his basement). Now that Steve Yzerman is the GM of the Tampa Bay Lightning, he is free to recreate the famed fivesome – but because he’s Steve Yzerman, he’s going to up the ante with five Russians named Nikita.
Don’t believe me? The plot is already well underway. It started at the 2011 draft when the Lightning selected winger Nikita Kucherov in the 2nd round. Not yet content, Yzerman and his scouts then selected defenseman Nikita Nesterov in the 5th round. Since all good plans come together over time, he then waited until the 7th round of the 2012 draft to select winger Nikita Gusev – who is also a former teammate of Kucherov’s. Assuming Yzerman uses his Jedi powers to ensure Zadorov ends up on stage in a Lightning uniform, it’s simply a matter of finding a Nikita to play center. Good thing Columbus isn’t using this one anymore. Yzerman would have to pry him away from Salavat Yulaev Ufa of the KHL and teach him to play center, but that’s child’s play.
Obviously this is all crazy talk brought on by the prolonged NHL lockout. Or did Steve Yzerman pay me to say that? I guess we’ll never know.