Maple Leafs trade Zaitsev to Senators for Ceci in six-player deal

Tanya Simon
July 2, 2019

The provincial rivals completed a deal that had been rumoured for about 48 hours, with Toronto trading Nikita Zaitsev to Ottawa for fellow blue-liner Cody Ceci.

Locking up Meier was one of the top priorities in free agency after re-signing defenseman Erik Karlsson to an eight-year, $92 million contract last month.

Zaitsev asked for a trade at the end of last season and blasted the Maple Leafs organization and fan base during an interview conducted in Russian after the team was eliminated by the Boston Bruins.

"Just seemed like the flawless fit in terms of what he can bring in terms of his experience", Dubas said at a Scotiabank Arena news conference. "He's been an important part of turning this team around". However, Zaitsev's contract will likely help the Senators meet the salary cap floor. "I knew that we would get up a little more to play the Leafs".

"We've very happy with the return that we got in the deal". "I feel we're well set up for whatever comes our way, but our primary ambition is to try and find an agreement with Mitch".

"We wanted to make sure that we've got a variety of players that are versatile in their own right", Dubas said. "We came really close to eliminating (St. Louis)".

This trade worked out because Zaitsev was willing to waive his no-trade clause with the other main point being that Toronto flexed it's wealth capital and paid the $3 million signing bonus to Zaitsev.

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The Senators also signed forward Jordan Szwarz to a one-year, two-way contract.

"We were looking for someone as a mentor", said Dorion.

Toronto made the move to shed salary.

Much like Zaitsev, the 25-year-old Ceci was a lightning rod for criticism related to his poor performances with the Senators.

And since Montreal extended the NHL's first offer sheet in six years to Carolina's RFA Sebastian Aho on Monday afternoon, that threat remains real as ever. Also heading to Ottawa is Brown, 25, who posted 29 points for the Maple Leafs in 2018-19, and 23-year-old Carcone, who put up 27 points for the AHL Marlies. A three-time 20-goal scorer in the NHL, Ennis was the Buffalo Sabres' first-round selection (26th overall) in the 2008 NHL Draft.

"We've got lots of cap space, we've got different options", Dubas confirmed.

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