Another Saturday. Another Saturday Headlines segment. Another story about the Toronto Maple Leafs.
This time it has to do with CSKA Moscow’s Nikita Zaitsev, who you might remember as the Russian blueliner who visited with the Leafs this past offseason and met with members of both the front office and coaching staff.
At the time, there was some confusion as to whether Zaitsev had signed with the Leafs or not. It turned out that the 24-year old was only visiting and weighing his options ahead of his pending free agency next offseason. According to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, Toronto isn’t the only NHL club taking a close look at Zaitsev now…
“There’s a Russian prospect coming overseas next year, Nikita Zaitsev. His agent Todd Diamond said today he’s definitely coming over. There will be teams going over to see him in a tournament this week: Philadelphia, Toronto, L.A., Vancouver, Calgary among those teams that looked at him. And there will be more. Already some teams going over to meet with him and see where his interests are.”
Zaitsev has appeared in 22 games for Moscow this season, scoring four goals and 13 points with a +13 rating. We won’t know for a while whether Zaitsev is a stud NHLer in hiding or a undrafted free agent du jour, but the Leafs could certainly use all the help they could get.