In what can be the most predictable thing of the summer in the NHL, the Edmonton Oilers are interested in Nikita Zaitsev.
Trade discussions will heat up in the days leading up to next weeks draft. Mentioned Vancouver’s interest in Nikita Zaitsev last week. Sounds like the Oilers have some interest as well.
— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) June 13, 2019
Unfortunately for the Leafs, Peter Chiarelli is no longer the general manager for the Oilers, but Ken Holland doesn’t have the best track record when it comes to players on expensive contracts for a very long time.
Under contract for five more years at a cap hit of $4.5-million, Zaitsev just seems like the perfect type of player for a new Holland regime in Edmonton. Really starting off with a mediocre bang that will slowly shrink into fan complaints and an eventual buyout.
The Oilers have just over $10-million in cap space remaining and still have to re-sign depth players like Puljujarvi and Khaira to new contracts and think about retaining unrestricted free agents like Alex Chiasson. With all of this mentioned, it definitely makes sense that a team that has missed the playoffs all but one year in recent memory would want to acquire an overpaid defenceman that will be paid a significant portion of their cap.
Ever since Zaitsev reportedly asked for a trade out of Toronto, it appears teams have been lining up for a chance to talk to GM Kyle Dubas about acquiring the right-handed blue liner. Teams just really want to fix the cap problem for the Leafs, since then they can enjoy knowing that they helped the upcoming dynasty in their own special way.
In Edmonton, there was supposed to be a whole new way of doing things — firing the GM that caused so much pain, a move like this will teach all the fans that nothing ever changes and in that franchise they will just find pain.
There is no real concept for what kind of return Zaitsev can get from Edmonton or any other team. It has been reported that he does still carry trade value throughout the league, so this will not be any sort of cap dump scenario.
Whether it’s any kind of young player that will flourish as soon as they leave Edmonton, the Leafs will be welcoming any return that won’t involve them being held accountable for a bad contract coming to Toronto.
This possible transaction will clear up a ton of cap flexibility for the Leafs, increasing the chances that they will be able to retain some of their young restricted free agents or hypothetically sign a significant free agent on July 1.