Photo credit:Walter Tychnowicz-USA TODAY Sports
A Maple Leafs trade target is off the market as the Canucks have traded for Nikita Zadorov
2 months ago
An defenseman is off the market for the Toronto Maple Leafs.
On Thursday evening, the Vancouver Canucks announced that they acquired Nikita Zadorov from their divisional rivals, the Calgary Flames. The package the Flames received for the defenceman was less than expected, as in return, they picked up a fifth-round pick in 2024 and a third-round pick in 2026.
On November 10, the 28-year-old left-shot defenceman requested a trade after the Leafs beat Calgary 5-4 in a shootout. There were rumours that Zadarov and the Leafs were a perfect match and Zadarov “welcomed” a trade to the centre of the universe.
One reason why the trade may not have happened for Toronto is because the Leafs wished for the Flames to without hold salary. Unfortunately, it appears that the Leafs will have to look elsewhere for a cheaper defenceman.
This season, Zadorov has a goal and six points in 21 games played with the Flames. He has picked up 23 penalty minutes and a -6 plus/minus. The 2022-23 season was a breakout year for the big Russian defenceman, scoring a career-high 14 goals and 21 points in 82 games.
For his career, Zadorov has played 588 games with 42 goals and 132 points and was selected with the 16th overall pick in the 2013 draft by the Buffalo Sabres.
The Leafs have numerous injuries to their backend, such as Timothy Liljegren, John Klingberg, and Mark Giordano. The big question is who could they acquire to help shore up their defensive woes? Well for starters, just because Calgary traded Zadarov, doesn’t mean they and the Leafs can’t still link up, as Chris Tanev would fit quite well on Toronto’s blue line.
Moreover, Ethan Bear could be an option for the Leafs. The 26-year-old right-shot defenceman is an unrestricted free agent due to shoulder surgery that he’s recovering from. The Edmonton-drafted player had a career-year in 2019-20, scoring five goals and 21 points in 71 games. He most recently played for the Vancouver Canucks, where he scored three goals and 16 points in 25 games.
It’ll be interesting to see what the Leafs do as the season continues to go on, but an upgrade defensively is needed.
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