Update: Leafs the front-runner to land Zaitsev

Last week we had an interesting day trying to figure out if the Leafs had signed defenceman Nikita Zaitsev out of the KHL. Initially it looked like he would be coming to Toronto, foregoing his last year in Russia with CSKA Moscow, but eventually it became clear nothing would be sorted out until after next season. 

Igor Eronko, a writer for Sports.ru who first relayed the news of Zaitsev and the Leafs being linked, provided a few updates on the situation this morning.


Unless another team emerges as a major suitor for Zaitsev, it appears the Leafs have the inside track on acquiring him. Judging by those quotes, they went to great lengths to impress him and did just that. If he has also gone to the level of having tests performed (I’m assuming fitness-related), there’s little doubt the Leafs are serious about landing him, and should definitely be considered the favourites to this point.

As we mentioned last week, Zaitsev will remain under contract with CSKA Moscow until April 30, 2016. He notched 32 points in 57 games for the club this past season.

  • MatsSundin#13

    This is just a thought but does anyone else feel like Leafs management is bringing players of certain types in pairs, possibly to make them feel more comfortable? First Nikita Soshnikov, then Nikita Zaitsev – other than Komarov, nobody else on the team speaks Russian and I feel like they are trying to bring these guys in together so they can bond. This also applies (I feel like) to Casey Bailey and Zach Hyman – both college guys who will feel more comfortable because they both took similar routes (and can learn from Bozie on how to make adjustments coming up to the NHL) – really really smart by the Leafs management, not just getting good players, but getting players that will bond into a team.

  • giproc

    Reilly, Gardiner, Valiev, (Zaitsev in’16), (Provorov if drafted), Loov, Nillson, Percy, (Dunn if they can find a high second round pick.)

    3 Russians on the Leafs D? Ballard would be shaking in his grave.

    Could be a lot worse than that going forward. 3 Russians on the Leafs D?