Maple Leafs ink defenseman Nikita Zaitsev to seven-year deal

TORONTO (AP) The Toronto Maple Leafs have signed defenseman Nikita Zaitsev to a seven-year contract extension.

The deal, announced Tuesday, is for $4.5 million per season and extends through the 2023-24 season.

The 25-year-old Zaitsev had a solid rookie season in 2016-17, registering 36 points (four goals, 32 assists) in 82 games and leading Toronto players with an average of just over 22 minutes of ice time per game.

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Prior to signing with Toronto, Zaitsev played in 317 regular season games in the Kontinental Hockey League, registering 95 points (32 goals, 63 assists).

The Leafs also announced a one-year deal with forward Ben Smith, worth $650,000. The 28-year-old Smith had four points (two goals, two assists) in 36 games with the Maple Leafs last season after being claimed off waivers from Colorado.

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