Leafs grant Zaitsev trade wish with deal to Sens

The Toronto Maple Leafs have granted Nikita Zaitsev's wish for a trade, sending the disgruntled defenseman to the Ottawa Senators as part of a six-player deal Monday between the Atlantic Division rivals.

Zaitsev, citing personal reasons, asked to be traded earlier this offseason following his third season with the Maple Leafs.

Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas told NHL.com in May that the organization would try to fulfill Zaitsev's request, saying it "will be our goal to try to find a fresh start for him, for his own personal and private reasons."

Now Zaitsev is headed to the Senators, who also received forwards Connor Brown and Michael Carcone from the Maple Leafs for defensemen Cody Ceci and Ben Harpur, forward Aaron Luchuk and a third-round draft pick in 2020.

The Leafs made another move early Monday, agreeing to a one-year deal with veteran center Jason Spezza..

Spezza, 36, received the $700,000 NHL minimum salary.

Spezza is a Toronto native entering his 17th season after spending the first 11 in Ottawa and past five in Dallas. He gives the Maple Leafs veteran depth. He had 27 points last season.

According to reports, Toronto is losing free agents Ron Hainsey and Tyler Ennis to the Senators.

Zaitsev, 27, scored three goals and 14 points in 81 games last season. The 6-foot-2 Russian has struggled to duplicate the production from his big rookie season in 2016-17, when he had 36 points.

Zaitsev will enter the third year of a seven-year deal that runs through 2023-24 with a cap hit of $4.5 million per season.

"We're bringing in two highly competitive players that we like as long-term fits for our team. Both are the type of true professionals who match with the culture we want to put in place here in Ottawa," Senators general manager Pierre Dorion said in a statement. "Nikita is a physical right-shot defenceman who defends hard, fills lanes and blocks shots. Connor has scored 20 goals in [a season] 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."

Brown, 25, had eight goals and 21 assists in 82 games with Toronto this past season.

Ceci had seven goals and 19 assists last season, his sixth with the Senators. The 25-year-old was a first-round draft pick (15th overall) of the Senators in 2012.

Born and raised in Ottawa, Ceci had become a lightning rod for criticism of the team, but he still played big minutes.

TSN reported that after the trade the restricted free agent agreed to a one-year, $4.5 million deal with the Leafs.