Blackhawks: Does Nikita Zadorov have any place on this team?

Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Nikita Zadorov received criticism before the puck even dropped on the 2021 season. The trade that brought him to the Windy City from Colorado in exchange for Brandon Saad was seen as lopsided, and certainly not in line with the rebuild that General Manager Stan Bowman had hinted at.

Still, Zadorov brought a big body and a large physical presence to the back end of the ‘Hawks. Coach Jeremy Colliton was confident that Zadorov would be a welcomed addition. “He adds a dimension that we don’t have a lot of, he’s very physical and he wants the contact, and when you’re on the ice against him, you better know where he is,” Colliton said back in October.

Sadly, though, Zadorov has been one of the biggest disappointments this year for Chicago. The ‘Hawks of the 2010s were never an overly physical team, and that trend has continued into the start of this decade. Zadorov’s physicality is nice to have, but it doesn’t really blend well with the system or style of play that the Blackhawks have built.

Zadorov has played 17 games so far this season, with five assists to show for it. However, beyond these points, he has proven himself to be a risk on the ice. He has often been caught out of position, and blown assignments have led to more than one goal by the opposition this year.

There are a lot of questions revolving around Nikita Zadorov’s role with the Chicago Blackhawks.

That begs the question- what role should Nikita Zadorov really have on the Blackhawks? Should he have any role on the Blackhawks? Well, this might be a controversial take, but as long as the ‘Hawks have him, I say that they might as well use him as an enforcer. Throw him out there against the other team’s bottom line and let him throw his weight around.

Many people have been calling for Zadorov to be traded. While this would be a good outcome for both parties, he currently has a $3.2 million cap hit (per CapFriendly), so shipping him off might not be the easiest thing to get done, especially when his poor play this season is taken into account.

So, while the Colorado Avalanche definitely made out like bandits with Brandon Saad, the ‘Hawks are stuck with a player that has certainly not panned out the way anybody hoped.

However, he is part of this team, so Jeremy Colliton might as well try and take advantage of the only consistent part of his game- his physicality, which is something that is not easy to come by for the ‘Hawks.

For now, Zadorov might be labeled the black sheep of the ‘Hawks, but maybe a lesser, more physical role on the team could give him a second wind. It’s unlikely, but at least for the time being, it might be the best option for him.