Nikita Zaitsev signs a new 4 year contract in KHL
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Nikita Zaitsev signs a new 4 year contract in KHL

The veteran defenseman is heading back home.

Trevor Connors

Former Toronto Maple Leafs, Ottawa Senators and Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Nikita Zaitsev has reportedly signed a four year deal with SKA Saint Petersburg of the Russian KHL.

The 32 year old blueliner put up two goals and seven points in 38 games with the Blackhawks last season and was frequently made a healthy scratch. His best season in the NHL came during his rookie campaign with the Leafs back in 2016-17 when he managed four goals and 36 points in 82 games. Following that season though, Zaitsev's game fell off a cliff. He was shipped to the Senators in a salary cap dump and he's never really regained his form. Now he's back in Russia where he broke onto the scene.

For our earlier report on Leafs captain John Tavares, read below.

It's been a bit of a rollercoaster ride for John Tavares during his seven year tenure with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Now, entering the final year of his seven year, $77 million contract there are reports that Tavares could be stripped of his captaincy by new head coach Craig Berube.

From NHL insider Nick Kypreos:

"From what I’m hearing, the Leafs are contemplating taking the captaincy away from him and giving it to Auston. They will talk about it. I’m not saying it’s going to happen, but it’s real."

- Nick Kypreos

I'm all for the Leafs changing up their leadership core, but I'm not sure that simply taking a letter away from a guy like Tavares really does much to change things. Instead, the Leafs should be looking to move some of their leaders out via trade in order to really shake up their leadership group. Re-arranging which letter which player has on their jersey is purely for optics and doesn't have much to do with what actually happens out on the ice. Not to mention, it'll become a media circus with reporters asking every Leafs player for their opinion on the matter between now and next season.

Seriously... what are the Leafs doing here?

Source: The Score