Toronto Maple Leafs sign Russian defenceman Nikita Zaitsev

Toronto Maple Leafs president Brendan Shanahan joins Hockey Night in Canada to talk about winning the 2016 NHL Draft Lottery.

The Toronto Maple Leafs signed Russian defenceman Nikita Zaitsev to a one-year, entry-level contract, the team announced Monday.

Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported back in January that the Russian free agent planned on signing with the Maple Leafs.

Zaitsev registered eight goals, 18 assists and 20 penalty minutes in 46 regular season games with CSKA Moscow in the KHL this past season. He also added 13 points in 20 playoff games, which was tied for the most playoff points among KHL defenceman.

The 24-year-old is a two-time KHL all star who totalled 95 points (32 goals, 63 assists) and 156 penalty minutes in 317 career KHL regular season games. Zaitsev is set to represent Russia at the upcoming 2016 IIHF World Championships.

Undrafted in NHL, Zaitsev was taken fourth overall in the 2009 KHL Draft. He is regarded as a strong-skating, offensively gifted blueliner blessed with NHL size.

The Calgary Flames, Vancouver Canucks, Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins and Los Angeles Kings had reportedly expressed interest in the Moscow native.

May 2, 2016

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Nikita Zaitsev
LENGTH:
1 Year
CONTRACT TYPE:
Entry-Level Deal
SALARY CAP HIT:
N/A
TOTAL:
$925,000

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