It’s the moment we’ve been waiting an eternity for; Nikita Zaitsev is coming to what has typically been his summer home. The Moscow-born 24-year old defenceman signed a one-year entry-level contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs today.
— The Leafs Nation (@TLNdc) May 2, 2016
From the official press release:
The Toronto Maple Leafs announced Monday that the club has signed defenceman Nikita Zaitsev to a one-year entry level contract.Zaitsev, 24, collected 26 points (eight goals, 18 assists) and 20 penalty minutes in 46 regular season games with CSKA Moscow of the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) this past season, before adding 13 points (four goals, nine assists) in 20 playoff games. His 13 points in the post-season were tied for the most among KHL defenceman. Zaitsev was twice selected to play in the KHL All-Star Game and was named a KHL first-team all-star in 2014-15. The Moscow, Russia native collected 95 points (32 goals, 63 assists) and 156 penalty minutes in 317 career regular season games in the KHL. Zaitsev also registered 24 career KHL playoff points (seven goals, 17 assists) in 51 games.Zaitsev will participate in the 2016 IIHF World Championships with Team Russia.
Zaitsev will make $925,000, 10% of which comes as a signing bonus.
The CSKA Moscow point man has been in negotiations with the Leafs since last season but was unable to get out of his KHL deal to make the jump a year prior. As reported here on TheLeafsNation.com, Zaitsev made his intentions clear in November and has been unwavering about the process since.
Speculation regarding teammate and former NHL star Alexander Radulov remains ongoing, though most reports don’t have him connected to Toronto just yet. In the meantime, you’ll find a wealth of information on the team’s latest addition in our post “Last Train To Zaitsev” from Saturday evening.