This should be the Toronto Maple Leafs number-one off-season target.

It is recommended that the Toronto Maple Leafs take the initiative before to the NHL’s Free-Agency Period.

The most sought-after player will be defenseman Nikita Zadorov when the Unrestricted Free-Agent Market opens on July 1.

Nikita Zadorov is 29 years old, 6’6″, and fresh off a playoff series in which he essentially shut down Connor McDavid.

Each and every NHL team will attempt to sing him. In order to negotiate with him before the rest of the league, the Leafs should be ahead of the game and give Vancouver a draft pick. This will demonstrate their interest in him.


The best fits for a Nikita Zadorov trade - Daily Faceoff

Toronto Maple Leafs Should Go Hard After Zadorov

Zadorov is an intriguing player. Statistically, he doesn’t shine and might appear to be overpaid if compensated like a first-pairing superstar, despite being statistically closer to a third-pairing replacement. However, there are some aspects that might justify his potential high value.

Standing at 6’6″, Zadorov excels in defending the rush and is a competent puck mover who can join offensive plays. These skills suggest he might be more effective in hard minutes, or perhaps he’s just now reaching his potential and putting together all elements of his game.


NHL Notebook: Nikita Zadorov makes debut with Canucks against Flames,  Devils call up prospect Simon Nemec in light of Dougie Hamilton injury, and  more - OilersNation



Could Zadorov become a #1 defenseman? It’s uncertain and maybe even unlikely, but the potential is there. He might be a late-bloomer who is finally leveraging his size and skills effectively. This makes him a potentially good signing, particularly given his two-way game at such an imposing size. Even with significant overpayment, the worst-case scenario is that you end up with one of the best big defensemen in the NHL.

While there’s a risk of a situation similar to the David Clarkson debacle, Zadorov’s upside makes him worth the gamble. Offering him a contract of seven years at $7 million might be excessive, but securing his rights before July 1st could prevent him from hitting the market and commanding an even higher price.

Acquiring a #1 defenseman typically involves either drafting a top-tier talent like Makar or Hughes, getting lucky with a lower pick, or trading for a flawed player with high upside and hoping for the best. The Leafs have not succeeded with the first two options, making Zadorov the type of high-risk, high-reward play that could potentially yield a dominant number-one defenseman. Despite the risk, the potential reward makes it worth pursuing.

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