The Toronto Maple Leafs don’t have to, but if the team wants to move on from defenseman Nikita Zaitsev, it might be beneficial to trade him before July 1 when his 10-team no-trade clause kicks in. While Zaitsev has requested a trade as well, making it easier for Toronto to unload the five years remaining on his contract at $4.5MM, there are likely to be several teams interested in acquiring the 27-year-old.
In fact, The Athletic’s James Mirtle (subscription required) looks into what teams would be the most likely to acquire the blueliner and the Edmonton Oilers find themselves at the top of the list. Zaitsev could be paired with one of Toronto’s forwards, either Connor Brown, Kasperi Kapanen or Andreas Johnsson to acquire either Matt Benning or even Adam Larsson in the right deal.
The Vancouver Canucks and Anaheim Ducks round out the top three teams who would make the best bets, but there are quiet a few other candidates as well.
- Boston Globe’s Nick Kelly writes that Boston Bruins forward Marcus Johansson was non-committal Friday when asked about whether he wanted to return to Boston next season. An unrestricted free agent and a key contributor throughout the playoffs (four goals and 11 points in 22 games), the 28-year-old may have priced his way out of Boston. However, Johansson said he did enjoy his time with the Bruins and will speak to them first before looking at his other options.
- Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun writes that even though the Ottawa Sentators locked up backup goaltender Anders Nilsson to a tw0-year, $5.2MM extension which many thought would be the end for Mike Condon. The 29-year-old, who lost the backup job early last season, still has one year remaining on his contract at $2.4MM and seemed like a prime buyout candidate. However, general manager Pierre Dorion said the team will not buy him out and intend to bring him in to camp in the fall before determining what to do with him. Condon made just two appearances, allowing eight goals and had a .800 save percentage. He was sent to Belleville of the AHL for one game before he opted to sit out the rest of the year with hip inflammation. He hopes to be healthy for training camp.
- Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman notes that he spoke recently to Florida Panthers general manager Dale Tallon, who told him that he expects goaltender Roberto Luongo to make a decision about his future soon, in fact, before the draft next Friday. The team needs an idea on whether Luongo intends to come back next year. Florida is expected to sign one of the top goaltenders on the market with Sergei Bobrovsky on the top of their list. However, if Luongo opt to return (he still has three years remaining at $4.53MM AAV), the team will have to find a way to move out James Reimer.