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UFA defenceman Nikita Zaitsev makes big decision on his NHL future


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Cooper Godin
May 21, 2024  (7:43)
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Former NHL defenceman Nikita Zaitsev during his time with the Chicago Blackhawks.
Photo credit: USA TODAY Sports

Pending unrestricted free agent defenceman Nikita Zaitsev has spent quite a bit of time in the National Hockey League since coming over to North America in 2016.

The Moscow native began his NHL career with the Toronto Maple Leafs before moving on to the Ottawa Senators, where he'd spend the most of his time. For parts of the last two seasons, Zaitsev has been with the Chicago Blackhawks and in just over a month, is set to hit the open market.
However, it appears that his time in the National Hockey League has come to a close. According to Russian media outlet Sport-Express, Nikita Zaitsev is set to sign a multi-year (likely three years) contract with SKA St. Petersburg of the KHL.
Note: the following quotes were translated from Russian.
"As SE has learned, Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Nikita Zaitsev will sign a multi-year contract with SKA.

The hockey player's agreement with the St. Petersburg club will last for at least three years."

Zaitsev, 31, appeared in 38 games for the Chicago Blackhawks during the 2023-24 season. He missed a significant chunk of the regular season after suffering an injury to his right knee in January, but was able to return to the Blackhawks' line-up in early-March. In those 38 games, Zaitsev had seven points (two goals, five assists), 14 penalty minutes and was a minus-five.
While he didn't live up to the hype in the National Hockey League, Zaitsev was still able to carve out a solid career here in North America, appearing in 482 games across eight seasons. He will now have the chance to potentially finish off his at home in Russia.
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UFA defenceman Nikita Zaitsev makes big decision on his NHL future

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