Apropos of Quinn MacKeen’s excellent piece earlier today:
Friedman on Zaitsev: "Everybody in the league believes he's going to Toronto." Lot of teams feel it's signed, sealed and delivered. #Leafs
— Chris Nichols (@NicholsOnHockey) November 13, 2015
Nikita Zaitsev would be a nice pick up for the Leafs. Just turned 24, RHD, 6’2, 200 – Great shot, mobile. https://t.co/gVh8SrEG9T
— Maple Leafs Hotstove (@LeafsNews) November 13, 2015
Here’s the progression of the story with Zaitsev since the summer:
- Maple Leafs have talked to Nikita Zaitsev, but he’s staying in KHL for now
- KHL defenceman Nikita Zaitsev’s agent denies signing with Leafs
- Leafs summer recruit Nikita Zaitsev thriving in final year of KHL deal
- Maple Leafs, Flames, Canucks pursuing top Russian prospect
- Friedman on Zaitsev Nov. 12: “By the way, everyone’s convinced he’s is going to Toronto”
Zaitsev is in the final year of his KHL contract which he decided to honour last offseason. If the reports are to believed, a handshake has taken place and a contract is all but in place to bring Zaitsev to Toronto in 2016.
- Quinn MacKeen: Brendan Shanahan, The Russian 5, and the New Generation Maple Leafs – Part I: Shanny gets “puck possessed” (MLHS)
So, a year ago, a Toronto sports reporter [who shall remain nameless][but whose name rhymes with “Brave Chesfuk”] broke the story that Brendan Shanahan was only into “puck possession” because it was… trendy.
- Jonas Siegel: Reimer earning longer look in Leafs crease (TSN)
He’s helped the Leafs win back-to-back games for the first time all season while picking up points in five of six (3-1-2). The 27-year-old boasts a sparkling .943 save percentage in this most recent run and he’s also responsible for all but one of the Leafs 12 points this season.
- Travis Yost: SAP, NHL, and Conmen Finding an Easy Mark (Tumblr)
The NHL, at an early point in their business relationship with SAP, considered a liaison or oversight position to ensure that SAP’s deliverables were accurate. That never materialized. SAP’s ran roughshod since then. Many of the above numbers are data points pulled from months ago. These [inaccurate] numbers remain on the official web site of the NHL.
- Elliotte Friedman: 30 Thoughts – Canadiens more than a one-man team (Sportsnet)
The other strange one was how little Russia used Nikita Zaitsev, the free-agent-defenceman-to-be. “We were hoping to see more of him,” the above scout mentioned. Another noted the Russians used Boston pick Maxim Chudinov more than Zaitsev. Chudinov’s been loyal to the KHL and Zaitsev is leaving, which could be a big factor. By the way, everyone’s convinced he’s is going to Toronto.
- Darren Dreger: More on those Duchene trade rumours (TSN)
Teams reach out to the Boston Bruins from time to time to check in on the availability of goaltender Malcolm Subban. With Tuukka Rask signed long-term and the addition of Zane McIntyre to the Bruins family in Providence, there is reason to believe a rebuilding team like Toronto or Arizona would have interest in Subban.
- Rob Longley: Coach Mike Babcock’s ID firmly on Maple Leafs (Toronto Sun)
“His teams take on a familiar identity,” Predators coach Peter Laviolette said on Thursday prior to the Maple Leafs-Predators game at Bridgestone Arena. “You can tell. When you went and played Detroit, you always had to fight and battle for your space. If you didn’t, the scoreboard wouldn’t go accordingly for you.”
Damien Cox: Garret Sparks creating ‘quiet excitement’ in Maple Leafs organization (Sportsnet)
Now, that’s all changed. After giving up sweets and junk food in the off-season, Sparks dropped 25 pounds and last week was named AHL player-of-the-week. If there’s another Darling or Condon in the offing, it might be this youngster. “I have to give the Leafs all the credit in the world for not giving up on an ignorant kid,” he says.