When the NHL announced its intentions to not attend the upcoming 2018 Winter Olympic Games, many Russian stars stood by their previous statements about heading there anyway. CSKA Moscow of the KHL even came out saying they would try to lure players back to Russia with the promise of the Olympics. Nikita Zaitsev, the Toronto Maple Leafs rookie was one of those players since he will technically still be a restricted free agent come the summer.
Zaitsev though is in the process of finalizing a huge extension with the Leafs, and told Chris Johnston of Sportsnet today that the Olympic decision won’t change his plans for staying in North America. “I think everybody wants to play for their national team, especially in the Olympics, but it’s not the right time to think about it right now,” he told Johnston. The 25-year old defender has represented his country at several international tournaments in the past, though never an Olympic Games.
- Both Jeremy Rutherford of the St. Louis Post Dispatch and Andy Strickland of Fox Sports believe that a Vladimir Sobotka decision will be announced soon, after the news broke that he was discussing a multi-year contract extension with the team. Sobotka isn’t a superstar and never will be, but could give the Blues even more depth down the middle for a long playoff run. If he returns to the team this year, he’ll be honoring the one-year $2.725MM deal that was awarded by an arbitrator before heading to the KHL three years ago.
- Timo Meier won’t unpack his bags just yet, as Kevin Kurz of NBC reports he has been recalled by the team once again. Meier went down to the Barracuda yesterday to play in an AHL contest that he dominated, scoring two goals and flying all over the ice. He hasn’t been able to find that same finishing ability in the NHL, but remains one of the top prospects in the league because of his tremendous potential.
- Andreas Athanasiou may miss Saturday’s game for the Detroit Red Wings with an upper-body injury and, according to Ansar Khan of MLive, if he does the team will call up Matt Lorito from the AHL. Lorito has 54 points in 59 games this season but has still yet to crack an NHL lineup. The 26-year old has come a long way since playing in the OJHL as a youngster, unable to crack an OHL squad. Four years at Brown University and a grind in the AHL may culminate in an NHL debut on Hockey Night In Canada against the Montreal Canadiens.