Elliotte Friedman broke the news on Jan. 22 that Nikita Zaitsev intends to sign with the Maple Leafs next season. Since then, we've been keeping our eyes on his play, especially since there are currently 25 defensemen in the Leafs system for 18 playing slots.
According to writer Katya Knappe,
Zaitsev looks good on paper. He's playing top minutes on the top team at a young age. He's got good points, albeit almost all of his goals, year after year, are on the power play, and he has a decent if not spectacular number of shots per game. He is the classic offensive defenceman, good at jumping up into the play, and the question with those guys is: how are they in their own end, and do they leave the door gaping open behind them when they move up?
Who stays and who goes? We've been asking ourselves this question all season. What other signings could happen in the next few weeks, harbingers of change throughout the organization as the team addresses its needs in all positions? For example, the Solar Bears recently traded forward Lindsay Sparks to the Rapid City Rush in exchange for "futures," and is possibly signing a veteran in his place. (We have unconfirmed hints as to who that we can't share just yet.)
Back to the original point. This morning, Moscow (first in division and league) won 4-2 over Spartak. Zaitsev got the game-tying power-play goal in the match.