Nikita Zaitsev
Nikita Zaitsev
28-Year-Old DefensemanD
Ottawa Senators
2019 Fantasy Outlook
Zaitsev arrives in Ottawa with much promise, but considerable doubt. He moves from a top-four role with the Leafs into a top-pairing position for the Sens. The 27-year-old isn't a great shutdown guy, which is the role he was asked to play for the Leafs during the last two seasons. As a result of that ill-fitting assignment, Zaitsev's possession numbers took a downturn over the past two campaigns, and he was a liability at times. He did, however, put up 36 points in his rookie year when he saw time on the power play. Ottawa is the one place where he might be able to put the last two years behind him and pick up where he left off following that promising rookie year. Draft cautiously, though, because you'll need to be sure of his role before taking a late-round gamble. Read Past Outlooks
$Signed a seven-year, $31.5 million contract extension with the Maple Leafs in May of 2017. Traded to the Canadiens in July of 2019.
First game in a month
DOttawa Senators
January 14, 2020
Zaitsev (lower body) had one shot with two blocks and two hits in Tuesday's 3-2 overtime loss to Chicago.
ANALYSIS
Zaitsev was in the lineup for the first time since Dec. 14 and he finished his return with 17:30 of ice time on a defensive pairing with Mark Borowiecki. The 28-year-old wasn't much of a point producer over his final two years in Toronto and has just eight assists in 33 games in his first season with the Senators.
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2018
2017
2016
2019 NHL Game Log
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2018 NHL Game Log
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2019–20 Time On Ice Stats
  • Average Time On Ice:
    22:05
  • Average Power Play TOI:
    0:06
  • Average Short-Handed TOI:
    3:00
 
Ice Time
Power Play
Short-Handed
2017–18
22:13
0:14
2:57
2018–19
20:28
0:04
2:51
2019–20
22:05
0:06
3:00
Senators Depth Chart
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Senators Power Play Depth Chart
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Past Fantasy Outlooks
2018
2017
2016
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.
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
Ready to return
DOttawa Senators
January 14, 2020
As expected, Zaitsev (lower body) will rejoin the lineup for Tuesday's game against the Blackhawks, NHL.com's Callum Fraser reports.
ANALYSIS
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Back at practice
DOttawa Senators
Lower Body
January 13, 2020
Zaitsev (lower body) returned to practice Monday, TSN 1200 Ottawa reports.
ANALYSIS
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Skating on his own
DOttawa Senators
Lower Body
January 12, 2020
Zaitsev (lower body) has skating on his own and should return to practice this week, Ken Warren of the Ottawa Sun reports.
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Listed on IR
DOttawa Senators
Lower Body
January 9, 2020
Zaitsev (lower body) is on injured reserve, per the NHL's official media site.
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Won't play Tuesday
DOttawa Senators
Lower Body
January 6, 2020
Zaitsev (lower body) has been ruled out for Tuesday's matchup with Washington, Ian Mendes of TSN 1200 Ottawa reports.
ANALYSIS
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