Should the Leafs pursue Nikita Gusev?

Should the Leafs pursue Nikita Gusev?

At noon EST today, the New Jersey Devils placed Nikita Gusev on unconditional waivers for the purpose of mutual contract termination.

Nikita Gusev on unconditional waivers for purposes of termination. Has not played since March 20, as young players take over in NJ. Was on waivers 9 days ago, but hit of $4.5M made it untradeable, unfortunately. This creates possibility of signing elsewhere at a lower number.
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) April 9, 2021

Gusev has already cleared waivers once, as the few teams with $4.5m in cap space did not find Gusev a worthwhile addition. After clearing waivers I assume the Devils did due diligence to find a trade partner, to no avail. If New Jersey had decided to assign Gusev to their AHL team he wouldn’t be the most expensive contract buried in the minors, so contract termination was not a foregone conclusion.
Still owed approximately $1m on his remaining contract with New Jersey, with this termination Gusev has agreed to walk away from that money. I don’t think he makes that decision just to hit the golf courses a month early. We’ve seen this in the past with Ilya Kovalchuk and Zach Bogosian in 19-20, each walking away from …

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Author: Earl Schwartz / The Leafs Nation

2021 European Free Agent primer

In the 2014-15 KHL season, Artemi Panarin, Nikita Gusev, Nikita Zaitsev, and Nikita Soshnikov were 4 of the top 5 u24 scorers. Gusev had already been drafted to the NHL, and by 2016 the rest were signed as Free Agents and in the NHL. While Soshnikov suffered from injuries, Panarin and Zaitsev immediately stepped into a big role in the NHL and changed the expectations for European Free Agents.
Every offseason since, NHL teams have been in search of young players thriving in European pro leagues who can step right into their lineup. Toronto and Chicago in particular have been able to lure high-profile European FAs by offering the most playing opportunities. I wrote about some of the most successful signings here, building a 20-man roster of European FAs.
2020 Leafs signings Alexander Barabanov and Mikko Lehtonen both appear in that article, and Lehtonen has raised expectations since with 17 points in 17 KHL games this season. I would argue he’s the most coveted KHL D since Nikita Zaitsev, some people will be surprised by his poise with the puck. The difference between these two and European FAs of the past is that their 1 year ELCs expire UFA, as both Barabanov and Lehtonen are 26. That …

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Author: Earl Schwartz / The Leafs Nation

Zaitsev reportedly garnering interest from the Canucks

As far as likely destinations for Nikita Zaitsev go, we probably should have penciled the Canucks in from the very beginning due to their puzzling attempt at a rebuild on the fly. If you’ve kept up on trade rumours over the last few years, it seems Jim Benning has been in on just about every “available” name out there at some point, even going as far as tampering for then-Canadien P.K. Subban when he hit the block before being dealt to the Predators. He’s always looking to make a move, good or bad.
So yeah, it shouldn’t come as much surprise that a team with one defenceman locked into a contract beyond this upcoming season might be looking to add to their back end. And given Benning’s questionable track record, the idea of an overpay to get the mobile but ineffective Zaitsev seems like it could be in the cards. The report of Vancouver’s supposed interest comes from Sportsnet 650’s Rick Dhaliwal this afternoon.

Source : #Canucks are busy working phones on the trade market. They checked in on the price for Toronto defenseman Nikita Zaitsev who is getting lots of interest.
— Rick Dhaliwal (@DhaliwalSports) …

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Author: Ryan Fancey / The Leafs Nation

Don’t expect much in the Zaitsev trade

Yesterday it was made known that the Leafs and Nikita Zaitsev were looking to make a clean split. After back-to-back nightmare seasons (especially offensively) for Zaitsev, and with a limited no-trade clause set to kick in a month from now, the timing of this isn’t all that surprising. I mean, the Leafs don’t let much get outside their cone of silence these days, but it’s been a badly-kept secret that they’ve at least gauged trade interest for the defenceman since last summer due to his problematic contract that Lou Lamoriello put together.
The only thing that’s changed is that now Zaitsev also wants to end this relationship, and with that will come a very public trade negotiation process.

It was Nikita Zaitsev who, for personal reasons, asked TOR today to try to facilitate a trade. He has five years remaining on a contract with an AAV of $4.5M. TOR will try to oblige Zaitsev but are not in a salary cap position to retain much, if any, salary.
— 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 …

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Author: Ryan Fancey / The Leafs Nation

He’s here for a long time, not a good time: The Nikita Zaitsev Story

What more can we say about Nikita Zaitsev that hasn’t been said repeatedly on this site throughout the year? He’s been underwhelming. He’s not a top four defenseman. He’s overpaid. He’s probably not going anywhere unless the Leafs get a little creative and they probably should.
Season Recap
It was the third year of the Nikita Zaitsev era, and once again Zaitsev enjoyed a guaranteed spot in the top four solely on the basis of shooting right. Well, that’s only partially true. The Leafs defense really wasn’t that great until Muzzin showed up, and you could make a case for him being the best defenseman behind Rielly, Gardiner, and Dermott, although beating out Hainsey and Ozhiganov for the distinction doesn’t warrant a passing grade.
It was another year of failed stretch passes and declining offense for Zaitsev that didn’t endear him to anyone who wasn’t focused entirely on his xGA/60 Rel TM. Of course, that might be a little too harsh on Nikita. For all of his faults, he was one of the better Leafs defensemen playing down low in his zone, and when given a tough assignment against Boston, …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation