Nikita Zaitsev
Nikita Zaitsev
27-Year-Old DefensemanD
Toronto Maple Leafs
2018 Fantasy Outlook
Zaitsev's production with the Leafs plummeted in 2017-18 and that made his queasy defensive abilities feel like a season-long stomach flu. Zaitsev had the worst relative Corsi on the entire team. Furthermore, his 13 points in 60 games paled beside his 36-point rookie year. Zaitsev wasn't the only defensive liability on the Leafs squad, but he was the one who became the focus of negative fans. Just Google his name and you'll see that every other article and comment screams, ‘trade the bum!” Expect an offensive rebound for the beleaguered right-shooting defender, but it won't be huge, as Zaitsev isn't likely to get much power-play time. While his defense is unlikely to improve, he will be among the top four unless the team adds some serious strength on its blue line. We guess there's some value in that, if only in really deep formats. Read Past Outlooks
$Signed a seven-year contract extension worth $4.5 million annually with the Maple Leafs in May of 2017.
Returns to practice Monday
DToronto Maple Leafs
April 8, 2019
Zaitsev (rest) was back at practice Monday preparing for Game 1 versus Boston on Thursday, Paul Hendrick of the Maple Leafs' official site reports.
Zaitsev was given the night off for the regular-season finale versus Montreal on Saturday, but appears to be back and ready to go for the playoffs. The defenseman should continue to log right around his 20:28 season average for ice time during the opening-round matchup with the Bruins. The Russian's lack of consistent offensive contributions, combined with his absence from the power play, limits his fantasy viability.
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Recent RotoWire Articles Featuring Nikita Zaitsev
Stanley Cup Playoffs: Player Rankings Cheat Sheet
43 days ago
Jan Levine's fantasy playoff cheat sheet ranks skaters and goalies in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Should Tampa Bay's Andrei Vasilevskiy be the top goalie in your playoff leagues?
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76 days ago
Jason Chen suggests plugging in Knights netminder Marc-Andre Fleury as part of a four-game Wednesday slate.
Stanley Cup Playoffs: Player Rankings
April 10, 2018
Jan Levine ranks the skaters and goalies in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for fantasy playoff leagues. Can you guess where Brad Marchand ranks?
Stanley Cup Playoffs: Postseason Preview
April 10, 2018
Jan Levine previews the Stanley Cup playoffs, picking each round, as Patrice Bergeron looks to carry the Bruins to another championship.
DraftKings NHL: Thursday Picks
February 1, 2018
Jason Chen is turning to the Canucks' Brock Boeser against Chicago for Thursday's 12-game slate.
Past Fantasy Outlooks
Zaitsev was a revelation in 2016-17. His 36 points were the third best rookie scoring total among rearguards behind only Zach Werenski (47) and Brady Skjei (39), and he averaged a remarkable 22 minutes per game in the Buds' top four. Zaitsev's skating is strong, so he was often sent over the boards to deal with the opponent's best, so he was run down by the time the Leafs were done. Zaitsev headed back home to Russia this summer with a few goals in mind -- getting bigger and stronger, building on his skating and improving his shot. His new seven-year contract extension ($4.5 million per season) means he's a big part of the Leafs' future, and we expect a jump in his production this season, including on the power play. Best of all, Zaitsev's return-on-investment should be high given his expected lower draft position.
Zaitsev is a silky-smooth, two-time KHL All-Star who controls the game from the back end using great skating and excellent poise. He's not physical, but he's good with his stick, breaking up plays with body positioning and angling. Zaitsev has a good shot and can walk the line on the power play, and he's a coveted right shot. He has the potential to be a top-four defender in time if he can adjust to the physicality of playing on the smaller NHL ice. Zaitsev's KHL experience will give him a leg up on several guys in training camp and he might even start the season as the team's No. 4 defender. He will struggle at times – he just moved halfway around the world to one of North America's biggest cities, just to play hockey. But Zaitsev could be a 20-minute, 35-to-40 point defender in a few short years.
More Fantasy News
Will sit finale
DToronto Maple Leafs
April 6, 2019
Zaitsev will not play in Saturday's regular-season finale against the Canadiens, Scott Wheeler of The Athletic reports.
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Killing penalties, not scoring
DToronto Maple Leafs
March 7, 2019
Zaitsev has two points in his last 13 games.
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Practices with Muzzin on Wednesday
DToronto Maple Leafs
February 13, 2019
Zaitsev skated with Jake Muzzin at practice on Wednesday.
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Finally nets first goal of season
DToronto Maple Leafs
January 24, 2019
Zaitsev scored his first goal of the season Wednesday against the Capitals.
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Posts rare two-point night
DToronto Maple Leafs
January 18, 2019
Zaitsev notched a pair of helpers in Thursday's 4-2 win over Tampa Bay.
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