Zaitsev Reaffirms His Intention of Joining the Leafs

When we last checked in on Nikita Zaitsev in November, Jeff Veillette reported 

The consensus is that Zatisev’s mind is made up and that it has been made up since June. Zaitsev is personally committed to signing with the Leafs, and while his agent is allowing for other teams to make their approaches, it’s more for the sake of not leaving stones unturned and having a contingency plan if anything falls through. As it stands, he was very impressed by what he’s seen in Toronto and has bought in.

Today, not much has changed as Elliotte Friedman has reported: 

So with nothing really changing, and all this being along the lines of what we first suspected when Zaitsev was first rumoured to be joing the Leafs back in June

The idea of adding a 6’2, 24 year old, right handed shot to the Leafs (or Marlies) blueline is still something we should be excited about for next season, and Zaitsev’s season is going as well as his previous one picking up 24 points in 39 games while playing just under 21 minutes a night. He is the top defenseman on the top team in the KHL. 

Elite Prospects has this to say on Zaitsev: 

Zaitsev plays a smart two-way game. He is a fine passer and has a good shot from the point. Could improve his physical game and add some bulk.

While importing a defenseman is far from a sure thing for the Leafs, after the Blackhawks success this season with Panarin it’s hard not to be a little excited about landing a highly touted KHL player. Since Zaitsev will be 24 years old when he comes over he will still be obligated to sign a one year entry level contract, so the cap hit and risk associated with that will be minimal. 

Like I said, it’s okay to be excited about this. It’s good news.

  • BarelyComments

    eons year elc? I don’t like that and I have never heard of this type of deal. at least he’ll have soshnikov, valiev and possibly komarov around if we don’t trade him. I knew he would sign here when he was pictured with a jays hat 😀 very excited to see him playing top 4 minutes. maybe he’ll be like mevdevev on the flyers 🙂

  • Harte of a Lion

    The Leafs keep uncle Leo. I have been preaching for months that Zaitsev is coming and his idol Komarov will not be traded.
    If his talent translates to the NHL. I see him playing beside Rielly.

    • magesticRAGE

      That would be nice. Hunwick has been a good soldier, but he’s being carried by Reilly. Need someone who can carry their own weight, hopefully that’s Zaitsev. I’d still be happy if he’s just a rock solid puck mover and some of his offense didn’t transfer over. Guess we’ll see…

      • Harte of a Lion

        Perhaps Gardiner moves up to 1st pairing and Zaitsev slips in beside Dion?
        On second thought, let Jake and Dion get better together.

        Jake still has the occasional brain cramp… Last night when he skated in front of the net and left the puck behind… However he has progressively gotten better under Babcock’s influence. If he moves the puck quickly, he is great, if he thinks too much, he makes mistakes.


        Rielly L Zaitsev R

        Gardiner L Phaneuf L

        Hunwick/Brennan/Harrington L Corrado/Holl R

        Löov L, Valiev L

        I think Junstin Holl will make the Leafs out of camp next year, you read it HERE first… I said the same about Froese…
        Valiev is a long shot but in his first year as a pro, he has impressed me every game I have watched.

        On defence, Dermott, Neilson and Desrocher are all eligible to play in the AHL next year so the Marlies have room for any draft picks free agents signed with this years players graduating

        Andreas Johnson , Piccinic and Timashov can make the jump to the Marlies but they are stacked with forwards. The system needs more top end d-men but overall things are far more promising than in years past