That's a high enough class of a mill that rumour came from, I'll buy it. Also, last year, Zaitsev had the hockey world a twitter—get it?—when he showed up in Toronto for the summer.

Who is he?

He's a young-ish defenceman who has played his whole career in Russia. He is 24, born in October of 1991, and his vitals are listed on the KHL website as:


189 cm


89 kg



He plays on Moscow CSKA, the top team in the KHL. They will very shortly be in the playoffs, so his stats as of now are nearly a full year of regular season play, although he has missed 12 games so far.

He is currently 12th in the KHL among defencemen in points, highest among D on his own team, and was named to the KHL West Conference All Star Team, and will play in that game on January 23, 2016.

CSKA is the team with big shooting, big scoring forward Alexander Radulov, so his 24 points (6 goals 18 assists in 40 games) pale in comparison to Radulov's 55, but he only has four forwards ahead of him in points. He also had 12 goals and 32 points last year.

To give him a comparison some of you might be familiar with, Jonathon Blum is 9th in scoring in the KHL with 28 points, and he is a 26-year-old American of almost identical size who played several years for Nashville and Minnesota. And couldn't get an NHL job this year.

Five of Zaitsev's six goals are on the power play, and his shots per game are a little low compared to defenceman with similar points, but given the top forward line on his team, passing seems like a good path to success. He plays a reasonable 20 minutes a game, usually on the top pairing, so he is not getting points by being the only guy that gets icetime.

I think he's an intriguing prospect, who costs nothing in picks to sign, and he will only prove himself by proving himself, so we shall all find out together if he's got it or not.