Report: Senators and Canucks came close to Zaitsev-Myers swap

The Ottawa Senators and Vancouver Canucks came very close to swapping defensemen before the deal fell through. (Reuters)

While rumours swirl around Tyler Myers’ future with the Vancouver Canucks, another potential suitor has emerged in the form of the Ottawa Senators.

Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman reported on the 32 Thoughts segment of Hockey Night in Canada on Saturday that the Senators were looking to send Nikita Zaitsev in return for Myers, offering the Canucks some salary cap relief in return for a much-needed blue line presence.

Myers still has two years left on his five-year, $30-million ($6-million AAV) contract that was signed back in 2019, and his departure in this deal would have freed up $1.5-million in cap space. Zaitsev is signed through the 2023-24 season on a seven-year, $31.5-million ($4.5-million AAV) contract he inked with the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2017.

Despite the interest from both clubs, Zaitsev—who has a partial no-trade clause—reportedly refused the trade, killing the deal before it had the chance to be sent to Myers for approval.

Zaitsev’s time in Ottawa has been less than astounding, failing to play more than 60 games in a season—save the 62 he played last year—or record more than 20 points since he arrived in 2019.

The Russian blueliner only has a single assist this season and was placed on waivers on Nov. 9, clearing the next day. He was assigned to Ottawa’s AHL affiliate in Belleville on Friday afternoon.

Considering Myers’ stature, his right-handedness and his ability to play big minutes both at even strength and the penalty kill, it’s no surprise that there’s a market for his services.

All signs point to Vancouver shopping Myers as a way to free up cap space in order to re-sign team captain Bo Horvat, whose contract is up at the end of the season and leaves him an unrestricted free agent. Horvat is currently second in the race for the Rocket Richard trophy, having scored 14 goals in 18 games this season, sitting just one behind Connor McDavid.

Both the Senators and Canucks are looking to shake things up after sluggish starts to the 2022-23 campaign, with both squads sitting near the bottom of their respective divisions.

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