Speaking on Coach’s Corner Monday, Cherry doesn’t think much of Zaitsev’s defence and is astonished the Leafs are reportedly giving the 25-year-old a seven-year contract extension.
“Can you imagine people giving me a hard time – Toronto Maple Leafs upset with me – because I said Zaitsev is not a defenceman,” Cherry said. “He’s minus-22, he leads the whole team in minus and you’re worried about getting him back. …
“You’re gonna give a seven-year contract, ridiculous. The guys on the Marlies are watching this game saying, ‘I can’t believe they’re giving this guy a seven-year contract, [he’s] minus-2 and he keeps playing.’”
Zaitsev is in his first season with Toronto, signing a one-year, entry-level deal with the Leafs in May last year after spending eight seasons playing professionally in Russia. He played in all 82 of Toronto’s regular-season games this season, tallying up 36 points (four goals, 32 assists).