In news that shouldn’t be surprising given Brad Treliving’s reputation as a guy that explores every option and the performance of the Calgary Flames defensively through 11 games, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman had an interesting tidbit during tonight’s Hockey Night in Canada broadcast. Friedman divulged that the Flames are one of many clubs sending representatives to Europe for the Karjula Cup tournament.
The objective? Scouting, and presumably wooing, Russian defenseman Nikita Zaitsev, who has indicated that he’ll be coming over to North America after his contract expires following this season.
Zaitsev, 24, is a right-handed blueliner. He’s presently in his seventh season in the Kontinental Hockey League, where he presently plays for CSKA Moscow (and previously for Sibir Novosibirsk). He’s put up 82 points and 140 penalty minutes in 293 KHL games. He’s also represented Russia in the U-18s (winning silver), World Juniors (winning gold) and World Championships, as well as playing in the Spengler Cup two seasons ago. He’s become one of the KHL’s top blueliners, playing in last season’s All-Star Game and being named one of the league’s All-Stars following the season.
He could be excellent, or he could merely be another Jakub Nakladal. Either way, he’s young and he’s right-handed, so he’s going to be highly sought-after by many NHL clubs.