Nikita Zaitsev was traded to the Ottawa Senators, along with forward Connor Brown, by the Toronto Maple Leafs for defensemen Cody Ceci and Ben Harpur on Monday.
Toronto also received forward prospect Aaron Luchuk and a third-round pick in the 2020 NHL Draft. Toronto also acquired the rights to restricted free agent forward Michael Carcone, who has played three seasons in the American Hockey League.
"We're bringing in two highly competitive players that we like as long-term fits for our team," Senators general manager Pierre Dorion said. "Both are the type of true professionals who match with the culture we want to put in place here in Ottawa. Nikita is a physical right-shot defenseman who defends hard, fills lanes and blocks shots. Connor has scored 20 goals in the League and is excellent on the forecheck and the penalty kill. We feel both players will add to our depth and fit well within the structure we want our team to play."
Zaitsev had 14 points (three goals, 11 assists) and was fourth on the Maple Leafs with an average ice time of 20:28 in 81 regular-season games. In a seven-game loss to the Boston Bruins in the Eastern Conference First Round, his ice time dropped to 18:57 per game.
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The 27-year-old defenseman has five seasons remaining on a seven-year, $31.5 million contract ($4.5 million average annual value) he signed with Toronto on May 2, 2017.
Zaitsev reportedly had asked to be traded, and Maple Leafs general manager said his plan was to accommodate him.
"That will be our goal, to try to find a fresh start for him, for his own personal and private reasons," Dubas said at the 2019 NHL Scouting Combine on May 30.
Zaitsev, an undrafted free agent who made his NHL debut for Toronto on Oct. 12, 2016, has 63 points (12 goals, 51 assists) in 223 regular-season NHL games, and two assists in 18 Stanley Cup Playoff games.
He had 36 points (four goals, 32 assists) as a rookie following three seasons with CSKA in the Kontinental Hockey League.
"Zaitsev does a lot of the things that we're looking for," Dorion said. "He's a strong defender, he's got great feet, he's ultra competitive, he plays in that defensive mold, and what he does well is he gets in lanes and he blocks out, and he boxes out well. And for us, the type of defenseman that we need is exactly there."
Brown had 29 points (eight goals, 21 assists) in 82 games for the Maple Leafs last season. The 25-year-old was selected by Toronto in the sixth round (No. 156) of the 2012 draft. He scored 20 goals as a rookie in 2016-17 and has 99 points (43 goals, 56 assists) in 253 games with the Maple Leafs and five points (one goal, four assists) in 20 NHL playoff games.
"Our pro scouts feel that, after the year Connor Brown had as a rookie -- and our amateur scouts that have seen a player who led the CHL in scoring -- we feel that he still hasn't reached his offensive upside. And he was a key part in this deal for us," Dorion said.
Ceci had 26 points (seven goals, 19 assists) in 74 games for the Senators last season. The 25-year-old restricted free agent was selected by Ottawa in the first round (No. 15) of the 2012 NHL Draft. He has 118 points (32 goals, 86 assists) in 440 NHL games and three assists in 25 NHL playoff games.
Harpur had five points (one goal, four assists) and averaged 17:37 of ice time in 51 games with Ottawa, and 11 points (two goals, nine assists) in 19 games with Belleville of the American Hockey League. The 24-year-old was selected in the fourth round (No. 108) of the 2013 NHL Draft, and had seven points (one goal, six assists) in 103 NHL games.
Luchuk, a 22-year-old center who agreed to terms on a three-year, entry-level contract on Dec. 26, 2017, had nine points (four goals, five assists) in 27 games with Belleville of the American Hockey League, and 22 points (10 goals, 12 assists) in 32 games with Brampton of the ECHL last season, his first in professional hockey.
Carcone, a 23-year-old left wing, had 44 points (20 goals, 24 assists) in 62 games in the AHL with Utica, the Vancouver Canucks' affiliate, and Toronto. He had been acquired by the Maple Leafs in a trade with the Canucks on Dec. 3, 2018, for forward Josh Leivo.