Friedman: Flames Pursuing Russian Blueliner Nikita Zaitsev

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.

  • BurningSensation

    You say that like Nalkadal might not be excellent.

    A better comp, since we dont know what Nakladal is yet, would be Anton Belov, who was definitely not excellent.

  • DestroDertell

    “He could be excellent, or he could merely be another Jakub Nakladal.”

    I don’t get that part. He’s three years younger, and most people following stockton suggest Nakladal is actually pretty good.

    • MattyFranchise

      I don’t get it either. There’s no reason to believe that Nakladal is a bad defenseman. No idea why Hartley refused to play him during his call up.

  • MattyFranchise

    Flames management will need to do a better job of convincing players to come here.There treatment of Nakladal is a an example of why a player would not choose Calgary.

    I, like many here don’t understand why he was not given a chance while we have vets that are playing very poorly.

  • The GREAT Walter White

    Flames have $11m+ in three bottom six defencemen. Players that but for the shot (Wideman) and the functional toughness, could easily be replaced at a quarter of the price. Nakladal supposedly has the shot so I’m not sure about that even. I would rather BT focus on dropping the cost of the bottom six than recruit another player that they can’t use and possibly can’t play for given Hartley’s current deployments.

    That way he can spend a little on a top six winger and the Joe Colborne experiment can end.

  • aye

    Currently in San Diego and went to see the Heat play the Gulls last night. Very entertaining, hard fought game, like the Flames last season. Anyway, Nakladal was very good! Sound decisions with the puck, good positioning, bit of a nasty streak as well.
    Kylington on the other hand worries me. Plays scared, makes bad decisions when pressured, and lacks strength. Opposition wingers would just come down the wing and drive to the net, and he is just not strong enough to push them to the outside. He looked like a boy playing amongst men. Maybe he does belong in juniors.

  • Slowmo

    Ok first of all Kylington is a baby give him some time he is playing N/A hockey now a little different style of play to what he is us to. Nakladal was promised he would play for the flames it would be my bet that Nikita will not come to play for the flames when he sees Nakladal is down in the AHL.