Zaitsev with Russia in 2014
29 October 1991|
Moscow, Russian SFSR, Soviet Union
|Height||6 ft 2 in (188 cm)|
|Weight||195 lb (88 kg; 13 st 13 lb)|
Toronto Maple Leafs
Zaitsev was selected by Sibir Novosibirsk of the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) in the first round, fourth overall, of the 2009 KHL Junior Draft, making his debut for the club a few months later. After four years with the Sibir organization, Zaitsev joined his hometown CSKA Moscow, after which he began to attract international attention. He was twice a KHL All-Star (2015, 2016) and named once to the KHL First All-Star team (2014–15).
In the summer of 2015, the NHL's Toronto Maple Leafs began to garner publicized interest in Zaitsev; Zaitsev had even toured the city and arena, while also meeting with team staff, coming away "very impressed". Despite this, Zaitsev returned to Russia to honour the final year of his contract with CSKA. During the subsequent season's playoffs, he led all defencemen in scoring with 13 points (tied with Sami Lepistö and Chris Lee), while helping the top-seeded CSKA to the Gagarin Cup finals, where the team lost in the deciding Game 7 to Metallurg Magnitogorsk.
Toronto Maple Leafs
On 2 May 2016, Zaitsev signed a one-year, entry-level contract with the Maple Leafs. He made his pre-season debut with the club on 2 October, scoring a goal in a 3–2 win over the rival Montreal Canadiens. On 12 October 2016, Zaitsev made his official NHL debut in a 5–4 loss to the Ottawa Senators in the 2016–17 season opener. He scored his first NHL goal on 17 December 2016 against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
On 2 May 2017, Zaitsev signed a new seven-year, $31.5 million contract with Toronto carrying an average annual value of $4.5 million.
During the 2017–18 season, Zaitsev was placed on injured reserve (IR) with a lower body injury on 17 December 2017. He had 7 points in 18 games with Toronto before being placed on IR. After missing 17 games, he returned to the lineup on 30 January 2018 for a game against the New York Islanders.
On 1 July 2019, Zaitsev was traded (along with Connor Brown and Michael Carcone) to the Ottawa Senators in exchange for Cody Ceci, Ben Harpur, Aaron Luchuk and a third-round pick in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft.
Regular season and playoffs
|2008–09||MHC Krylya Sovetov||RUS.2||8||0||0||0||0||3||0||0||0||2|
|2008–09||MHC Krylya Sovetov–2||RUS.4||23||6||12||18||24||—||—||—||—||—|
|2016–17||Toronto Maple Leafs||NHL||82||4||32||36||38||4||0||0||0||0|
|2017–18||Toronto Maple Leafs||NHL||60||5||8||13||31||7||0||2||2||2|
|2018–19||Toronto Maple Leafs||NHL||81||3||11||14||18||7||0||0||0||2|
Zaitsev at the 2010 World Junior Championships
|World Junior Championships|
|2011 United States|
|World U18 Championships|
|2009 United States|
Awards and honours
|Award or Honour||Year||Ref|
|2x KHL All-Star||2015, 2016|||
|KHL First All Star Team||2015|||
|Most playoff points by a defenceman (13)||2016|||
|WC All-Star Team||2016|
- "Maple Leafs Sign Defenceman Nikita Zaitsev". National Hockey League. 2 May 2016. Retrieved 6 October 2016.
- "Leafs summer recruit Nikita Zaitsev thriving in final year of KHL deal". Pension Plan Puppets. 22 October 2015. Retrieved 6 October 2016.
- "Alex Semin, Metallurg win KHL championship in thrilling Game 7". Roger's Sportsnet. 19 April 2016. Retrieved 6 October 2016.
- "Maple Leafs sign Nikita Zaitsev to long-term extension; Ben Smith inked - Sportsnet.ca". Sportsnet.ca. Retrieved 2 May 2017.
- Canadian Press (17 December 2017). "Maple Leafs recall Martin Marincin, place Nikita Zaitsev on IR". Sportsnet.ca. Sportsnet. Retrieved 17 December 2017.
- "Holl, Dermott pick up first career NHL goals as Leafs beat Islanders". tsn.ca. 31 January 2018. Retrieved 2 March 2018.
Defenceman Nikita Zaitsev was also back in Toronto's lineup after missing 17 games with a foot injury.
- "Senators acquire Zaitsev, Brown from Toronto in six-player deal". Ottawa Senators. 1 July 2019. Retrieved 1 July 2019.