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Photo Credit: Dan Hamilton / USA TODAY Sports

CSKA Moscow will attempt to sign Zaitsev, Marchenko, others

The following was reported by Igor Eronko of Sport-Express this afternoon:

It appears that CSKA Moscow plans to use the news that the NHL will not send its players to the Olympics to draw Russian talent home, including the two Leafs’ defensemen.

With 36 points in 79 games, and an estimated Goals Above Replacement this season of 4.54, Zaitsev is a critical asset that the Leafs will undoubtedly war with CSKA over (heh, get it? WAR?).

Marchenko on the other hand is much more of a depth defenseman. Losing that depth would certainly be a loss, but given that Marchenko is a negative Goals Above Replacement player himself at -0.328, and he hasn’t been in the Leafs’ lineup since March 25th due to Connor Carrick returning to the lineup, it wouldn’t be a critical one. He joined the Leafs as a waiver claim and hasn’t been able to earn a spot over Carrick and Polak and finds himself as the Leafs’ 7th or 8th defenseman.

The rumours of Zaitsev’s 7-year contract extension suddenly begin to make more sense, as top 4 right handed defensemen don’t fall from trees in this league. The Leafs are likely willing to go to pretty great lengths to keep Zaitsev in Toronto, and it would be hard to argue against that.

It will be interesting to see just what CSKA is able to do with the financial freedom of no salary cap, a team that is constantly at the top of the standings, and full allowance of its players to attend the 2018 Olympics in Pyoengchang, South Korea.

  • FlareKnight

    I don’t envy Zaitsev’s dilemma here. There’s plenty known of how much he wanted to come over and how hard he worked to get here. But now he’s got to make a choice. Not only about staying long term in NA, but also now the Olympic pull. Obviously hope he sticks around since we can’t really afford to lose help on the blueline. But…that’s a tough decision to make.

    • I wonder what Ovechkin’s declaration that he will go no matter will have on fellow Russian’s in the NHL. Of course, Ovechkin has “FU Money” and can easily live with any fine the NHL drops on him but, of course, players like Zaitsev aren’t so financially comfortable.

      When it comes to other countries, I wonder what the dam breaking point will be for players to just up and go regardless of what their contracts say. Sure, a guy like Crosby hasn’t said anything publicly but if, for instance, 90% of the assumed Olympic players just get up and leave, the NHL can’t really suspend all of them at once, can they?

      I think the NHL players really need to take a page from players in the NBA here. They are the star power. If they, as one, just go public with a committed stance similar to Lebron et al. did regarding the former Clippers owner, the NHL has to back off a bit, don’t they? They can’t keep hiding behind a guy like Fehr; they need to make a stand and stop thinking that intermittent player interview sound bites are going to accomplish anything.

      • FlareKnight

        Yeah, I wonder about the effect that Ovechkin stance will have. Also I guess it depends on how the NHL is going to tackle this. How serious are they going to be about penalizing people or outright trying to stop them from going? Yeah Ovechkin can and probably will go “screw you NHL.” He’s made a ton of money. Sure he has a lot left on that contract, but he can make a lot in the KHL and it doesn’t really matter since he’s already stupid rich. Other guys aren’t that rich or just starting out their careers.

        I wonder long term what impact this might have. It seems utterly stupid when the league is expanding to 31 teams and is making reaches internationally in places like China to suddenly risk contracting the player pool. The Olympics really matter in some places and I wonder how many guys will just stay away so they can represent their country.

  • mrgreeeee82

    Ryan mentions GAR here. I’ve seen others floating Leafs numbers for this season. Can anyone tell me where these stats are located these days? W-o-I is gone, and I can’t seem to find who has them now (or how to calculate, if that’s how it’s gotta be)

  • Gary Empey

    Like most of us I hope Zaitsev signs a new contract with the Leafs. It is so hard to acquire a top four defenceman these days without over-paying for a UFA or trading a top scoring forward. I doubt playing in the Olympics will have much effect on his decision. His hockey career is far more important. The rumor mill says his agent is asking for $31.5 million. He is willing to stretch this out for 7 years so the Leafs can have a cap hit of $4.5 for his salary. It would be interesting to know how much CSKA Moscow is prepared to offer Nikta.