It’s been a whirlwind year for Dmitriy Zaitsev. From manning the Wilkes-Barre blue line, to representing Russia at the IIHF World U18 Championships, Zaitsev’s talent and profile have grown. In 53 games for the Knights, the 6-1 195 Moscow native registered seven goals and 15 assists.
“Dmitriy is one of those guys you love to have on your blue line,” said Knights head coach Tom Kowal. “He brought a lot of energy, and was routinely one of our better performers. He’s a guy that was an anchor for us.”
Beyond his physical and heady play in all zones, Zaitsev often acted as quarterback of the Knights powerplay, leading all defensemen with three goals and four assists on the man-advantage. In games in which he registered at least one point, the Knights went 10-6-5.
“I thought he was an asset from the moment he stepped on the ice,” said Kowal. “It’s going to be really hard to replace him. We’re all extremely proud of how far he’s come and what he’s accomplished.\”
Zaitsev joins Ivan Provorov (2015, 1.07 Philadelphia Flyers), Daniel Sprong (2015, 2.46 Pittsburgh Penguins), Nikita Pavlychev (2015, 7.197 Pittsburgh Penguins) and CJ Yakimowicz (2014, 6.172 St. Louis Blues) as Knights taken in the NHL Draft. Zaitsev is the first player drafted from the team\’s NAHL program.