Nikita Zaitsev







                                                                        Nikita Zaitsev, D

Shoots: R

Height: 6-2

Weight: 196

Born: 1991-10-29

Hometown:  Moscow, RUS

Drafted: Undrafted


December 2017 – It was a pleasant surprise how quickly Zaitsev adapted to the NHL game last season; so much so that Leafs signed him for seven years at 4.5 million. The 26-year-old defenceman is now a top pairing defender that gets assignments against other team's top players while also killing penalties. Despite not getting any power play time, he still has four goals and six assists in this season so far. He just went down with an injury and he will definitely be missed. Brian Harling

October 2016 – Thanks in part to an early injury to Matt Hunwick, Zaitsev found stride in his first game with 24 minutes of action. I’ve been sitting on the fence with expectations from the Russian defender, but he has been little less than ‘very’ impressive. His play with the puck looks rather solid and well beyond his years as displayed by his puck patients that reminds us of the elite Tomas Kaberle years paired with strong skating. According to most European reports I’m privy to he has been hailed strong off the puck, after a few looks through training camp and game one, I can agree his defensive side is his most valuable asset as a player more than a fantasy option and he will get residual production starting rushes after defending his zone first. He has potential to appear on powerplays, but early on the Leafs have elected to use a main, four forward unit with Morgan Rielly. He is locked in to be a top four defender all season, but not a fantasy asset, so manage expectations and use accordingly. Jason Banks


April 2016 – Believed to have bested the Flames, Canucks, Kings, Penguins and Flyers, the Maple Leafs signed the promising Russian free-agent blueliner to a one-year, entry-level contract, fulfilling a fo