Mixed reports on the Maple Leafs and undrafted 23 year old defenceman Nikita Zaitsev.

Zaitsev, 6’1, 187 pounds, has been a target of interest for a few NHL teams for a few seasons now (including the Flyers, Sabres, Blackhawks among those reported), but to date no team has been able to entice him across the pond.

As of late May, the report was that Zaitsev would stay in the K for at least another season due to the year remaining on his contract. The Flyers have reportedly been interested in Zaitsev for five years dating back to the 2010 Draft Combine.

He had 32 points in 57 games for CSKA this season and added another eight points in 16 postseason games.

He is said to play well both with and without the puck and he has a sharp shot. Listed at 6-foot-1 and 187 pounds, he has decent size for the NHL, but could stand to gain a few pounds of muscle.

Broad Street Hockey suggested last month that Zaitsev was, in past seasons, not eager to forgo a contract with a top flight KHL team in order to work his way up through the American Hockey League. Any NHL team will have to give him some assurances he will have every chance to claim a spot in the big club’s top 6.

Here is Bill Meltzer on Zaitsev as a player. He shoots right (which is nice).

Zaitsev is considered to be a good two-way defenseman with above-average puck moving skills as well as an accurate shot from the point. Although born in Moscow and initially trained in the Krylia development program, he did not blossom until he went to Novosibirsk.

We’ll have to wait and see if there’s anything to the report by Sport Express or not. Sounds like the Leafs will be vying for his services in a year’s time when his contract with CSKA is up, at a minimum.

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