Zaitsev in Toronto, but plans on KHL return

Toronto Maple Leafs president Brendan Shanahan. (Chris Young/CP)

TORONTO — Nikita Zaitsev is currently visiting friends in Toronto but intends to return to the KHL next season, according to a source.

The Maple Leafs are believed to have interest in the 23-year-old defenceman.

However, Zaitsev has one year left on a deal with CSKA Moscow and plans on honouring it.

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There have been recent discussions between the NHL and KHL about the possibility of allowing players under contract to jump to North America in exchange for a development fee — as happens with other European countries — but deputy commissioner Bill Daly told Sportsnet on Thursday that no changes have been made to the transfer agreement.

Zaitsev has spent six seasons in the Russian-based league, putting up 12 goals and 32 points in 57 regular-season games last season.

He is expected to be in training camp with CSKA starting July 3.