We are right in the middle of the 2017 NHL Draft and the New Jersey Devils will be very active with multiple picks in the seventh round. For their second pick of the seventh round, the Devils selected Yegor Zaitsev from Dynamo Moskva with the 205th overall pick. Zaitsev is an overage prospect for this year's draft, after being passed over in 2016.
I'm certainly intrigued by this pick, especially after the season that Yegor Rykov - a Devils overage pick last year - had last season. According to ElitePropsects, Zaitsev was born on May 3, 1998 and is listed at 5'11, 185 lbs. The left handed defenseman is a Dynamo Moskva player, appearing in 19 KHL games last year with a point, +3, 10 PIM, and 12 shots while averaging 7:26 according to his KHL player page. He's received plenty of playing time at the junior and minor league levels in Russia and figures to be a full time KHL player next year. Let's get to know his game a bit better.
Here's what Steve Kournianos of The Draft Analyst had to say on Zaitsev in his mock draft last year:
There seems to be a dozen Zaitsev’s playing hockey in Russia on the current NHL radar, but we think this kid will turn out to be the best of the group. Yegor is a well-built puck-moving blueliner with solid offensive instincts and the ability to lay bone-crushing hits. He battled the injury bug while shuffling between the MHL and VHL, but a top-six role in Russia’s competitive senior circuit is a discernible goal for 2017. Zaitsev is a rare blend of skill and aggression — he’ll drop down to the hash marks for a shot, then belt an opponent in the chops if the chance doesn’t materialize. In other words, this kid doesn’t get cheated, as he will play the man and finish his check multiples times per shift. Zaitsev may come across as cocky, but it’s somewhat understandable when you can move and hammer the puck the way he can. The kid is listed at 6’0, 180 pounds, but he hunts down and obliterates like a linebacker from the 1970’s. Zaitsev is an opposite point option for the power play and is competent at killing penalties.
I think Zaitsev is worthy of a pick even though he’s an overage player. He only recently turned 19 and already has experience at the KHL level. He has skill and an edge to his game and I think he has the potential to be a NHL defenseman down the road. Hopefully he can enjoy success similar to Rykov this upcoming season.
Now that you've read my initial reaction and know a bit about the prospect, let me know what you think of the selection in the comments. Do you agree or disagree with the pick? What are your expectations for this player going forward? Also, please vote in the poll below to let us know how you feel about the pick. Thank you for reading!
The New Jersey Devils drafted Yegor Zaitsev at 205th overall (7th Rd). What do you think about the pick?
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I love it!
I like the pick.
I don’t know/I’m in the middle.
I don't like the pick.
I hate the pick!