Dmitri Zaitsev

Aaron Vickers

Zaitsev is a very cool and calm-under-pressure defenseman. He is smooth, poised and effective with the puck. He’s not flashy at all, but makes safe and simple plays, including strong outlet passes that aren’t too risky. He moves well on his feet and possesses strong defensive awareness that allows him to be effective in his own zone and adapt to incoming plays. Zaitsev does a good job of getting his stick out to cut space as he skates with the puck carrier and tries to angle him to the outside. He has no trouble skating the puck out of his zone and working up ice to set up. He’s not a creative guy playing the point on the power play, but does a good job of moving the puck around while under pressure and showing confidence to both shoot and set up a play with a well-timed pass. He dishes crisp D-to-D passes and knows when to slow down in transition. Zaitsev has a strong one-timer that he gets his weight behind and on net with force, which is easily tippable. He positions himself well and fills into lanes effectively. Not the biggest D-man, Zaitsev relies on hockey IQ, and positioning to effectively shut down the opposition. He will engage physically, but prefers to play a thinking-man’s game. He does not look for the fancy play often; instead, he keeps the game simple. Impressive footwork, and a willingness to block shots and get in front of offensive scoring opportunities make him stand out.   (May 2016)