BUFFALO, N.Y. — Sabres rookie defenceman Nikita Zadorov believes he’s heard this wake-up call after being disciplined by the team for showing up late to a meeting.
The 2013 first-round draft pick said Monday it was “my fault” and he has “100 per cent no excuses” for sleeping in after his alarm clock failed to go off a day earlier.
“I’m mad at myself,” said Zadorov, who was the last player off the ice following an optional practice. “I spoke with the team and said, ‘I’m sorry boys. I don’t want to lose your trust.”‘
Saying he needed to come up with a “Plan B” to make sure he’s never late again, Zadorov smiled and said he’s considering buying three alarm clocks.
The 19-year-old was held out from playing in a 2-1 shootout loss against Nashville on Sunday. Zadorov’s absence compounded the Sabres’ troubles on a defence already missing three regulars due to injuries.
Coach Ted Nolan called Zadorov’s transgression “a minor thing,” and yet he still won’t say if the player will return to the lineup for Buffalo’s game at Columbus on Tuesday.
“The defence last game, I thought they played pretty well,” Nolan said. “So to make a change just to make a change, I don’t think we’ll do that. But we’ll see. You never know.”
This is the second time in a month Zadorov has been disciplined for punctuality issues.
In January, he was held out for two games after being late reporting to the team because his flight to Buffalo was cancelled following the All-Star break.
“He’s a great kid. He really is,” Nolan said of the Russian-born player. “We’ve still got to take in his age and where he came from. Different country. Different environment. Everything’s different. It just takes some time sometimes.”
What’s not in question has been Zadorov’s potential. Though still eligible to play junior hockey, Zadorov got off to such an impressive start this season that he left the Sabres little choice but to keep him in Buffalo.
With three goals and 10 assists in 42 games, Zadorov’s 13 points are tied for the team lead among defencemen. He is also averaging just over 19 minutes of ice time.
Nolan said minor-league call-ups Mark Pysyk and Jake McCabe are expected to travel with the Sabres because of the team’s already depleted defensive ranks. Tyson Strachan won’t travel because of an infection. Josh Gorges was scheduled to have season-ending surgery on a lower body injury on Monday. And Mike Weber is out at least two weeks after having minor surgery to repair an upper body injury.