From @JohnLuTSNMtl, @PierreVLeBrun & @frank_seravalli: Why the Leafs & Kings' trade talks are not dead (but nothing is imminent) https://t.co/EwzEJG1m4M #TSNHockey #TradeCentre pic.twitter.com/aQcOGbKVfA
— TSN Hockey (@TSNHockey) May 31, 2019
Hearing the Leafs and Kings have talked about a potential Patrick Marleau trade. Obviously there’s the Todd McLellan connection there for Marleau so he might waive. But as of now I don’t think the two teams have found a fit. Kings would need to unload a contract or two as well...
— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) May 31, 2019
TRADE BAIT: While talks are heating up for Jacob Trouba and Nikita Zaitsev, they were both already on the board.
— Frank Seravalli (@frank_seravalli) May 31, 2019
I don't believe either player will be back. But it'll depend on what Leafs management can pull off in coming weeks. Even if they retain some salary on Marleau, it's a big win. (I wouldn't retain on Zaitsev due to term.)
— James Mirtle (@mirtle) May 31, 2019
WATCH: General manager Kyle Dubas spoke with the media at the #NHLDraft Scouting Combine yesterday.
— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) May 31, 2019
— The Leafs IMO (@TheLeafsIMO) May 29, 2019
Above article rough translation from Russian:
Nikita Zaitsev is one of the most controversial heroes of the season. Here is a chain of oddities:
• He is Toronto’s best defender in the game in his own half of the court, and he is fired against the opponent’s best attackers.
• At the same time, Canadian media shoot at him point-blank. “He can’t play! He had a negative indicator of utility last year, he went into a minus the year before last, he had a minus in the playoffs. Zaitsev is not a defender! ”- Don Cherry said before the playoffs.
• Another claim to Zaitsev in North America – he does not play well with the puck.
• But we remember that in Russia he attacked perfectly, and moved the puck, and threw – and even it was thought that CSKA did not fully reveal his creative skills.
Here is an unusual, but generally standard episode of his KHL game:
There is a complete feeling that Nikita is not disclosed in the “Toronto” as it should, and some part of the criticism is received undeservedly. Now he is in the Russian national team, which has restructured into a more open and modern model – and it is used not only as a killer of a minority and an effective homebody.
Several matches at the World Cup have already given a couple of interesting observations. Plus Zaitsev had a great talk with Alexey Shevchenko from Sport-Express – he answered in an interview to a part of the claims and explained what tasks Mike Babcock sets for him and what feedback he gets from headquarters.
Below is a compact story about how one of the best defenders of the generation progresses after a flight from North America to the Russian national team.
And yes, last year Nikita said that those who do not even watch them write about his matches – and in this case the claim does not work: I saw the entire 67 matches of Toronto this season, I finished the rest with highlights and described the whole thing in some detail in your channel.
So – go ahead.
Why Zaitsev get in North America?
Claims to Nikita are divided into two parts.
The first is quick questions based on pucks missed by Toronto when Zaitsev was on the ice. Or dissatisfaction with his “+/-” indicator – he, Nikita, balances around zero, so he looks like a convenient target. The same Cherry speech, which is mentioned at the beginning of the text, is the most succinct example of such a claim: I saw the missed puck, looked “plus or minus” and was ready: “Zaitsev is not a defender”.
“I’m amused that clowns like Cherry have a very big emphasis in our country as real experts,” Zaitsev himself explained. – It will immediately hang out on the sites, as if this is a serious person of some kind, in all seriousness. And the reader thinks – yes, Zaitsev, probably, some kind of garbage is engaged. You went out, you just do not have a living place, but people sit and think: “Damn, well, yes, that there, I came to zero in general.”
The second part of the claims is buried in the details. Everyone in one way or another admits that Zaitsev is good in his own half, but partly neglects this fact in favor of his actions with the puck – and just here Nikita sags. The Athletic website analysts sorted out every Toronto match and regularly put units, deuces and triples (with a maximum of five) to Zaitsev for a bad game with the puck.
Here is an example of this analysis. After the first match of the series with “Boston”, Nikita got three stars with this explanation (I don’t attach the link – the site is closed by paywall): “Zaitsev looked awful with a puck on a hook – he got off with simple emissions into the middle zone. But he also played a great number of times against Bergeron’s link, especially when he intercepted a pass in the fall when leaving 2-for-1. “Leaves” were leading in the bill when he was on the ice, but I would say that this is more connected with the game of Mazzin and the three of Tavares. These are three stars, because he did not drag the team down, but I still would like to see how he makes the best decisions with the puck. “
It turns out that playing securely is not enough to be useful.
As Zaitsev played in the team
Nikita was immediately given a little more freedom, but responsibility was no less. Zaitsev plays according to the situation: when the match is tense and there is a lot of dirty work in defense, he deals exclusively with her. An example is a match with the Czech Republic: 0 entrances to a foreign zone, but 11 exits from one’s own, 11 rebounds and 13 masterings of the puck (all according to InStat). It was freer with the Swedes and this is the result: 5 entrances to a foreign zone, 2 of them – through the pass, 2 – through the conduct.
In the national team, he returned to the majority, played on the blue line in the attack, again distributes the transfer and is valued including as a creative defender. Zaitsev has not turned into Brent Burns (and thank God), but he has already given such a pass in a match against Switzerland.
His case proves that the Russian national team-2019 is a place where people think about players better than anywhere else, and they do everything possible so that these players reveal the best qualities, and not hide the worst qualities from everyone. Having received a full-fledged, not closed Zaitsev in his zone, our team has become even stronger.
It’s easy to say TOR would like to lose the longer-term financial commitment to Zaitsev, and perhaps that is true, but that contract could also limit the trade return on the player. His departure would create a hole on a blueline that already has holes.
— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) May 30, 2019
Since the league was made aware this morning of Zaitsev’s availability, there have been multiple inquiries but it remains to be seen how many teams expect TOR to retain salary or make a soft/limited return deal because of the term/$ owed him.
— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) May 30, 2019
Maple Leafs GM Kyle Dubas confirms the plan is to try to find a new home for defenseman Nikita Zaitsev: "That will be our goal, to try to find a fresh start for him, for his own personal and private reasons." pic.twitter.com/VEbDQBloDg
— Adam Kimelman (@NHLAdamK) May 30, 2019
Kristen Shilton: Toronto Maple Leafs GM Kyle Dubas said that contract talks with Mitch Marner’s reps are ongoing and that Leafs are not sharing any of the details: “The Dreger Café got it kicked back up when it landed back in North America, which is fine, but there won’t be anything coming from us.”
Darren Dreger: “Full disclosure, Dubas was happy to visit the Dreger Cafe in Slovakia, but because of the Marlies, etc, the Leafs GM couldn’t make the trip.”
Mike Zeisberger: Dubas on the possibility of offer sheets to Mitch Marner, Kasperi Kapanen, or Andreas Johnsson. He said that they are ready if it happens and: “We don’t want to leave ourselves exposed to the actions of an irrational actor in the marketplace — another team that has the ability to do something that’s crazy.”
Mike Zeisberger of NHL.com: Maple Leafs GM Dubas and Mitch Marner’s agent Darren Ferris met in Buffalo at the 2019 NHL Scouting Combine.
Dubas says he hopes Marner can be a Maple Leaf for his entire career and that is what they are trying to work towards.
“We’re going to keep working with Darren to move this along and progress it ahead and come to an agreement which will make Mitch feel like he’s compensated at the level he’s deserved and us with a way to navigate our way ahead. I think if we’re all willing to work towards it we’ll get there. That’s what we have the time for here.”
Dubas on the speculation that Marner and his camp will be talking to teams during the free agent interview period if the sides don’t have a contract in place by the draft.
“I don’t know if that’s ever happened with a restricted free agent. So I would be surprised. And I’ve never been led to believe that’s the preferred destination or outcome. We’ll see.”
Dubas acknowledges that it’s a possibility that Marner talks with other teams. Some teams won’t have the salary cap space and the appropriate draft picks, some teams will.
“As a management group, our focus has been on finding contract resolutions with Mitch and Johnsson and Kapanen.”
Bob McKenzie: The Minnesota Wild traded for the rights to Toronto Maple Leafs unsigned draft pick Fedor Gordeev. He would re-enter the draft if not signed by June 1st. The Leafs will get a 2020 seventh-round pick if he signs.
Minnesota PR: The Wild have signed Fedor Gordeev to a three-year entry-level deal.
Chris Peters: “Wild need more depth in their system and Gordeev is an interesting project. Still needs some significant development time, but huge kid, athletic and some skill. There are tools. Good low-risk add for a team that has room to fill out below the NHL level.”
Scott Wheeler: “The scouting report on Gordeev for Wild fans: Huge, excellent skater for his size, confident with the puck through the neutral zone, good hands, his challenge has always been making the plays once he carries it in, not getting there. An interesting project at minimum.”