Maple Leafs Officially Sign Nikita Zaitsev to ELC

The Toronto Maple Leafs announced today that they’ve signed Russian defenseman Nikita Zaitsev to a one-year, entry-level contract.

Reports of Zaitsev signing with the Maple Leafs originally surfaced in January, when Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported that the 24-year old was telling teams that he intended to sign in Toronto. Zaitsev has been highly sought after dating back to June last year. Multiple teams traveled overseas to see him play and meet with him regarding a chance to play in the NHL.

The Maple Leafs immediately made a good impression…

Zaitsev is known as a solid two-way defender with good puck skills but limited physicality.

Zaitsev has played for CSKA Moscow for the past three seasons. In 46 games last season, he recorded eight goals and 18 total points. He added four goals and nine assists in 20 playoff games as well.

Throughout all three seasons with CSKA, he played 136 regular season games, netting 24 goals and 70 total points.