The Toronto Maple Leafs are reportedly working on a seven-year extension with defenceman Nikita Zaitsev, according to TSN’s Bob McKenzie.
Toronto Maple Leafs‘ fans received an interesting tidbit of news during the first intermission of Thursday’s game against the Nashville Predators, courtesy of the Bob-Father.
According to TSN’s Bob McKenzie, the Leafs are working towards a long-term extension with defenceman Nikita Zaitsev. The new deal would keep the 25-year-old in Toronto for the next seven years.
Here’s what McKenzie had to say during the intermission:
"One other bit of news for Toronto Maple Leafs’ fans that we should point out. It’s not done, but Nikita Zaitsev, who’s a restricted a free agent at the end of the year is getting a lot closer to what we believe would be a seven-year deal with the Toronto Maple Leafs. But I should point that it’s not done yet, but it seems to be in the works."
As for the financial ramifications, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported the potential AAV of this deal would be $4.5 million.
McKenzie also touched on the potential financial details, saying the extension would be less than Morgan Rielly‘s and likely in the $4.5 million range.
When you look around the league, this type of deal is similar to what Roman Josi, Jonas Brodin and Oscar Klefbom got from their respective teams. Zaitsev has had an interesting season with the Leafs, registering four goals and 30 assists in 76 games. He’s been solid on the power play, has played top pairing minutes, which also comes with top pairing assignments against the opposition, and has posted average possession numbers.
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This type of seven-year extension does carry risk, however. Zaitsev would be 32 at the end of this deal, which is closer to the age of a declining defenceman, and if he were to decline the Leafs would be stuck with him for a long time.
On the other hand, Zaitsev is a steady right-handed defenceman, which is coveted in today’s game, he plays well in the Leafs’ system, he wants to be in Toronto, and a potential AAV in the $4 million range wouldn’t look too bad over the long-term when you consider the salary cap could potentially rise in the coming years.
Overall, it’s not a bad deal, but it’s one that will be hotly debated because of the seven-year term. Considering who is available on the open market, perhaps the Leafs feel more comfortable locking up a player they clearly believe can be a long-term fixture on their blue line and will try to develop him instead of pay a steep price to acquire or sign someone else.
What do you think about the Toronto Maple Leafs reportedly working on a seven-year extension with Nikita Zaitsev? Are you comfortable with the term? Is the AAV to much? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.