MONTREAL, CANADA – NOVEMBER 14: Nikita Zadorov #16 of the Calgary Flames (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)
No. 2: Nikita Zadorov
As much as Tanev would help, I think the Leafs would be better suited looking at Zadorov.
The Leafs must have one of the least physically imposing blue-lines ever assembled in the entire history of the NHL, and Zadorov is someone who would instantly fix that.
He is huge.
At 6-foot-6, 250 pounds, Zadorov’s size and defensive style can make him effective in front of the net, clearing space for the goaltender and disrupting opposing forwards.
He may look big and slow during the regular season, but he could be particularly valuable in playoff scenarios where a more physical style of play often becomes prevalent.
Despite being so big, he actually has a really solid ability to move the puck up the ice, which is the best of both world’s for the Leafs.
Ideally, you’d love to see a player who can move the puck fast to Toronto’s speedy and skilled forwards and then can crush people down low.
Luke Schenn did a pretty good job with both of those things when he returned to the Leafs last year, so you’d be looking at Zadorov to be a slightly better Schenn if he joined the roster.
With a cap-hit of $3.75M, I’d love to see some sort of a Klingberg for Zadorov trade, if Toronto threw in a sweetener (prospect and a draft pick), but who knows if Calgary would be willing to do that.
Zadorov is a solid defender who likely won’t score too much, and who does sap some of his value by taking a lot of penalties. He is a great target for the Leafs, but he’s not a game-changer and they shouldn’t overpay.