Leafs interested in Zaitsev from KHL, but nothing signed yet (UPDATED AGAIN)

It looks like “The Zaitsev saga” has finally come to a conclusion. 

Earlier we had a Leaf bolting across the pond when Brandon Kozun was reported to have left for Jokerit, then news began to emerge that Nikita Zaitsev of the KHL’s CSKA Moscow may be joining the Leafs. But there were definitely some mixed signals.

According to Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston, Zaitsev was visiting Toronto, and the Leafs are interested in acquiring him, but he will return to the KHL for the 2015-16 season.

Here’s how things unfolded earlier.


So, we managed to find the article from Sports-Express, and it sort of read like the Leafs and Zaitsev may have reached an agreement, but he wouldn’t be coming across to North America until next year. 

From sports-express.ru (Google Translate):

This agreement will take effect from next season, as will the forthcoming defender CSKA, with whom he has a contract until 30 April 2016.

Then there was this:


If your Russian is not what it used to be, that roughly translates to “CSKA Defender Nikita Zaytsev is indeed in Toronto for talks with the President, “Leafs” Brendan Šènahènom.” And I’m assuming that last word means “Shanahan”, or maybe even “Shanaplan.”


Even though the deal isn’t going down right now, Johnston did mention the Leafs are still believed to be suitors for the young defenceman. 

Zaitsev had 32 points in 57 games for CSKA this past season as a 23-year-old, and appears to be a highly-touted Russian blue-liner. He’s listed at 6’1 and 187 pounds.


If this deal ever happens, signing Zaitsev would simply be a low risk-potentially high reward sort of move, which is what had people so excited about it earlier today. It’ll be something to keep an eye on.

  • Never heard of him and there isn’t much of a scouting report that I can find online but from what I have read + his stats it seems like he can be suiting up for the big club. Any confirmation if he’ll be staying in the KHL for another season or coming right to Toronto?

  • jimbobray

    Appears to be an excellent signing, Zaitsev is a right hand shot something the Leafs desperately need after trading Cody Franson. The guy can score, is young, and decent size.

  • jimbobray

    I like these low-risk moves. Hopefully they can get it done next year, if not this year!

    His points and frame look good. Any idea how his team finished or who he plays with?

  • needs to tone down with the large amount of penalty minutes but besides that, can’t complain! no risk involved and can be a steal. win win for everyone! sad about kozun though. he had one of the most memorable preseasons in a very long time. I thought he would at least rejoin the marlies. hope he does well 🙁

  • needs to tone down with the large amount of penalty minutes but besides that, can’t complain! no risk involved and can be a steal. win win for everyone! sad about kozun though. he had one of the most memorable preseasons in a very long time. I thought he would at least rejoin the marlies. hope he does well 🙁