Thursday, December 23, 2010
WJC Players to Watch: Nikita Zaitsev
Every year Russia has one of their veteran defencemen step up and take control of the offensive duties, and this year I believe Zaitsev is that player.
Zaitsev, a late '91 birthday playing in his second WJC, has played 75 KHL games for Sibir Novosibirsk, which is quite considerable experience for a player at this level. Though he was not very successful on the score-sheet in last year's tourney, he played considerably well the previous year for the U18 squad, leading all Russian defencemen in points with 5 in 7 games played.
If I'm right and Zaitsev has a good tournament, he could find himself picked up late in the 2011 NHL draft much like Maxim Chudinov (even though Chudinov's numbers were better, Zaitsev has the size advantage).