Toronto Maple Leafs Finally Trade Away Nikita Zaitsev

STOCKHOLM, SWE - NOVEMBER 8: Pierre Dorion, general manager of the Ottawa Senators, answers questions during media availability on November 8, 2017 in Stockholm, Sweden. (Photo by Andre Ringuette/NHLI via Getty Images)
STOCKHOLM, SWE - NOVEMBER 8: Pierre Dorion, general manager of the Ottawa Senators, answers questions during media availability on November 8, 2017 in Stockholm, Sweden. (Photo by Andre Ringuette/NHLI via Getty Images) /

Fans of the Toronto Maple Leafs can finally take a deep breath

With all the speculation revolving around the Toronto Maple Leafs and their cap issues, GM Kyle Dubas has managed to use his magic wand and rid themselves of the Zaitsev contract.

The Toronto Maple Leafs, who self-inflicted themselves with cap issues through the signing of Tavares, have found a dance partner in the Ottawa Senators to take on the contract of Nikita Zaitsev for the next 5 years at $4.5 million dollars.    

The man himself, Kyle Dubas, had the now famous quote of ” We can, and we will” when referring to signing Matthews, Marner, and Nylander and that now looks like it is coming into fruition after this deal occurred.

After the deal, the Toronto Maple Leafs now have $11.4 million in cap space even before Nathan Horton is placed on the LTIR which would relieve another $5.3 million in cap space.

Trade Breakdown

In the deal that included many moving pieces, it looks like the Leafs got the upper hand in the trade.

Leafs Receive: Cody Ceci, Ben Harpur, Aaron Luchuk, and a 2020 3rd round pick

Sens Receive: Nikita Zaitsev, Connor Brown, and Michael Carcone

Firstly, I want to point out that although we did get rid of the Zaitsev contract we had to sweeten it with the hometown boy in Brown, which does hurt knowing that he could have got us something else in another deal.

With that being said, the Leafs did receive $6.6 million in cap space from offloading these two, which helps the bigger picture when it comes to signing Marner and having one of the most dangerous offences in the league.

This trade worked out because Zaitsev was willing to waive his no-trade clause with the other main point being that Toronto flexed it’s wealth capital and paid the $3 million signing bonus to Zaitsev. So, although Ottawa will have $4.5 million against the cap, they will only have to pay out $1.5 million in actual salary which is music to the ears of the president of the senators Eugene Melnyk.

Besides Carcone, who came to the Leafs in the December trade that saw Josh Leivo going the other way to the Vancouver Canucks, we lost a piece in Brown who, although did not put up significant numbers on the 4th line this year, he always left his heart out on the ice.

And, at $2.1 million against the cap for a previous 20 goal scorer, it definitely hurts to see him leave the organization without a marketable return.

Cody Ceci

Taken with the 15th selection of the 2012 NHL entry draft, the 6’2 Ceci native was selected by the Senators.

At the time, he was a highly rated talent who had the projection of being a top-four defenceman.

Although Ottawa has given him time to develop, he has never really panned out with his highest point total being 26 and posting consecutive minus seasons.

Playing on a bad team has a lot to do with it, but he is almost like a Zaitsev in some sense. At times, there are flashes of potential. But that also accompanies his many blunders.

With a Corsi of 43.96%, the 2018-2019 campaign was by far Ceci’s worst season. But, maybe a new change of scenery on a title contender will make him into a top-four defenceman.

Possibly the tutelage of Mike Babcock will reinvigorate his drive.

Ben Harpur

The LHD 6’6 giant from Hamilton, Ontario was taken in the 4th round of the 2013 NHL entry draft by Ottawa. He was basically just a throw-in piece and I do not imagine that he will get time in a Maple Leaf Jersey, as he will probably get flipped or just be sent to the Marlies.

Having a Corsi of 41.37% is quite abysmal even if on the worst team in the NHL. But, knowing Babcock and the size that he possess I would not be surprised if Babcock wanted to get a closer look at him.

Aaron Luchuk

Not being selected at all, the 5’10 centre from Kingston, Ontario signed with the Senators at age 20.

Being only 22 years old now, there is still some time for him to develop into a potential 4th liner. But that is probably his ceiling as he does not possess much upside, a fairly neutral player in the eyes of many.

Last Thoughts

I just wanted to say thanks to Zaitsev and Brown for their time in the  Blue and White. Best of luck in Ottawa.

Next. Leafs Top Ten Prospects. dark

Besides Harpur and Luchuk, we got a wildcard in Ceci, a very important 3rd round pick and most importantly cap space which the Leafs were dying for.