For the past week, the Toronto Maple Leafs have been actively shopping defensemen Nikita Zaitsev in order to give the Russian blue liner a “fresh start” in the NHL.
Several teams have reportedly made inquiries about the defenseman with the Vancouver Canucks become a strong contender to acquire his services.
However on Thursday, TSN’s Darren Dreger reported that another Canadian team was jumping the mix, with talks of the Edmonton Oilers having interest in Zaitsev.
Many believe trading Zaitsev out of Toronto will be a tricky undertaking by general manager Kyle Dubas, however, he could pull it off by making some compromises.
But we all remember how Zaitsev put up just three goals and 14 points this past season and makes $4.5 million against the salary cap for the next five seasons. That’s a steep price for a player who can’t even put up 20 points and is arguably not even a top four defenseman. In his first season with the Leafs after coming over from Russia, Zaitsev put up four goals and 36 points in 82 games. Since then though, Zaitsev has managed just 13 points and then 14 points the past two seasons.
One thing is certain for Toronto: Oilers general manager Ken Holland wouldn’t be able to toss the hefty contract of Milan Lucic seeing that the Leafs are looking to shed salary and wouldn’t take on his ridiculous deal.
So, is this even real?
Oilers insider David Staples of the Edmonton Journal was quick to point out that this was a whacky rumour and couldn’t see why Edmonton would want to get Zaitsev on the roster.
Here is his main point on the unrealistic part of that speculation:
“Are the Toronto Maple Leafs prepared to take Milan Lucic in a deal for Zaitsev? Of course not. But that’s the only deal I could see making sense for the Oilers. Kris Russell earns $4 million a year, but he’s only got two years left on that deal. Why would you trade Russell for Zaitsev, especially when you have right shot d-men like Ethan Bear, Evan Bouchard in the system? You would not.”
What is your take on this rumour?