|Born||April 16, 1995 |
|Height||6 ft 5 in (1.96 m)|
|Weight||230 lb (104 kg; 16 st 6 lb)|
|NHL team (P)
San Antonio Rampage (AHL)
|NHL Draft||16th overall, 2013|
Nikita played in the 2008 Quebec International Pee-Wee Hockey Tournament with the HC CSKA Moscow youth team. He played in the top minor hockey level with his hometown team in Moscow, Krasnaya Armiya, in the 2011–12 season.
Showing unique agility and skating prowess for a formidable frame, Nikita scored 6 points in 42 games. He was selected by affiliate Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) club CSKA Moscow in the first round, fourth overall, of the 2012 KHL Junior Draft.
However, with an impressive performance with the junior national U17 team in Windsor, Ontario, and stating his intention to pursue a career in North America in order to be selected in the NHL draft, London Knights general manager Mark Hunter traded up with the Peterborough Petes in the 2012 CHL Import Draft to select him ninth overall.
After agreeing to a contract with the Knights, he began his major junior career in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) in the 2012–13 season.
Joining fellow Russian Vladislav Namestnikov and after adapting to the differing style and dimensions of the North American game, Nikita assumed a top pairing role and led All-Rookie defenceman in plus–minus with +33, and finishing second in scoring with 6 goals and 25 points in 63 games.
Earning a roster spot in the 2013 CHL Top Prospects Game, he helped the Knights claim the OHL championship to advance to the Memorial Cup.
As he was selected to the OHL First-All Rookie Team, Nikita scored the game-winner in the opening game against the Western Hockey League's Saskatoon Blades before losing in the semi-finals. His impressive season was noted as he was selected with the Buffalo Sabres's second first-round pick (16th overall) in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft.
Nikita attended his first rookie and NHL training camp and after his third pre-season contest he was signed by the Sabres to a three-year, entry-level contract on September 26, 2013.
Under the assessment of head coach Ron Rolston, he made the Sabres' opening night roster to begin the 2013–14 season. However, he sat out the first ten games before he made his NHL debut in a 4–2 defeat to the Colorado Avalanche on October 19, 2013.
On October 23, 2013, Nikita scored his first NHL goal on his first shot against the Boston Bruins against Chad Johnson, becoming the youngest Sabres defenseman in franchise history to achieve the feat.
With the Sabres cleaning out the front office and coaching staff, and with an imperative to rely less on the youth from new head coach Ted Nolan, he returned to the London Knights on November 19, 2013 after seven NHL games played.
Nikita played out the remainder of the season with the Knights, assuming a top-pairing role in surpassing his rookie season totals in points (30) in half the number of games (36), earning a selection to the OHL Second All-Star Team.
Despite a benching during the rookie pre-season tournament in Traverse City, Michigan, he rebounded to have a strong training camp to make the Sabres' opening-night roster in the 2014–15 season as a permanent addition to the blueline.
Nikita initially only saw limited playing time as a rotational option to the third-pairing under Ted Nolan and was primarily on the team for practice only (he was not yet eligible for the American Hockey League and a tie-up involving his KHL rights prevented him from being returned to juniors).
Nikita's playing time soon increased in the season as the team's coaching staff decided to keep Zadorov regardless of his junior situation.
In developing a shut-down role through his physicality, Nikita showed offensive glimpses, collecting his first multi-point game in scoring an overtime marker in a 4–3 victory over the Florida Panthers on December 13, 2014. He also became the youngest Sabres defenceman in history to score an overtime winner.
Nikita showed his youth by suffering two team suspensions over the course of his rookie campaign, after returning late from holiday over the All-Star break and later oversleeping through a team practice. Despite a lowly year for the Sabres, he led the blueline in plus–minus and finished with 3 goals, 12 assists in 60 games.
At the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, Nikita was traded as a central piece by the Sabres in a package that also included Mikhail Grigorenko, J.T. Compher & the 31st pick in the draft to the Colorado Avalanche in exchange for Ryan O'Reilly & Jamie McGinn on June 26, 2015.
Regular season and playoffs
|2015–16||San Antonio Rampage||AHL||52||10||19||29||90||—||—||—||—||—|
|Competitor for Template:Country data Russia|
|World Junior Championships|