“There are no thoughts of returning to the KHL yet. I’m playing here for Chicago. Interview with Nikita Zaitsev

When the trade took place, the Blackhawks received Nikita Zaitsev, 31, along with a 2023 second-round pick and a 2026 fourth-round pick, in exchange for future compensation.

Thus, “Chicago” is in full swing to prepare for restructuring. In this year’s NHL Entry Draft, the Blackhawks will have seven picks in the first three rounds (two in the first, three in the second and two in the third). The club also have one cap each in the fourth, fifth and seventh rounds.

In 28 games in the current NHL Championship, Zaitsev has scored 5 (0+5) points with “-5” utility. He still has one year left on his contract with an average salary of $4.5 million.

It took some time to get the immigrant visa required to work in the United States. After all, Zaitsev has been playing in the NHL for seven years, having spent them exclusively in Canada – three seasons in Toronto, four seasons in Ottawa.

And now the American stage begins in the career of the Russian defender. correspondent Hanna Arbitman caught up with our player after the Chicago-Ottawa match, in which the hosts won big (5:0). Zaitsev himself didn’t score in the game against his former club, but did score one hit, two blocks and spent 17.57 minutes on the ice.

I packed up and went to Chicago

– Nikita, with what feelings did you play now against Ottawa, where you spent the last four seasons?

The feeling was a bit strange. I was very anxious. In fact, spent four years in this team. It was therefore naturally an important match for me. I took this game personally.

We now have a different team, half of the new guys. So here in “Chicago”, it all starts now with a clean slate. We want to build something new and it’s going to be a very interesting time. Now all the games will be intense, you have to connect to it, prepare for it.

– Didn’t you catch yourself thinking that you instinctively wanted to go to another store?

No, there was no such feeling.

– How was your exchange in Chicago? Did that surprise you?

– It came to this, of course. So we were ready for that. We calmly packed up our things and left.

– Have you ever had a time when you needed to apply for an immigrant visa?

– Yes, I waited about 10 days. Meanwhile, I was riding, going to the gym. But it’s still not the same as working with a team. So it took time. The first game was very tough. The legs had to start moving.

“I’m still in the fog”

— How did you get used to the new city and the new team?

– The guys here are all cool, good. And while it’s impossible to say that I settled in Chicago. It’s a very big city and I didn’t have much time. Training, matches…

– Your contract expires in a year – what are your plans after that?

– You have to play well, earn money for a new contract.

– Have you thought about returning to Russia and playing in the KHL? Or is it too early?

“No, there are no such thoughts yet. I play here in the NHL.

– Do you follow the Gagarin Cup qualifiers?

– Honestly no. I have a lot to do right now. Therefore, the thoughts are occupied with other things.

– You are considered in the NHL as a defender with a strong defensive style who makes a lot of blocks. But is it still possible to see Nikita Zaitsev play offensive hockey?

– Yes, everything is real, why not? It all depends on how I’m going to be used, how I’m going to act. There is no style of play that I avoid, so everything is fine.

– What changed for you in life when you moved to America?

– Several things. Let’s start with the fact that Canada and the United States are different countries. Yes, and “Chicago” is a completely new team … To be honest, I still need a few weeks to realize everything.

“I felt at home in Ottawa”

– Is it true that you have wanted to move from Canada to the United States for a long time?

– I will say that I liked playing in Ottawa. I felt at home there. I really had my home there, I knew a lot of good people. All the nice guys there, a great team and a great vibe. I felt very comfortable.

– The advantage of the USA is that taxes are lower there.

– So there will be more money – that’s good, – smiles Nikita.

– And the press is not as fierce as in Canada.

– I understand there are a lot of reporters in the Chicago Blackhawks locker room. I won’t say it’s less than in Ottawa. And after Toronto, I am already calm vis-à-vis the press.

– How do you see the fact that “Chicago” is now included in the period of perestroika?

– Yes well. I’ve played my entire NHL career on rebuilding teams. You could say that’s normal for me. And I feel good here.

Source : MatchTV

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