The Ottawa Senators will have an influx of former Toronto Maple Leafs' players this upcoming season.
Former Maple Leafs' assistant coach DJ Smith is the new head coach in Ottawa and he'll have some familiar faces around him.
Connor Brown, Tyler Ennis, Nikita Zaitsev and Ron Hainsey will all be wearing a Senators jersey next season after playing with the Leafs for the last couple of years.
Zaitsev of course demanded a trade out of Toronto and he's gotten some slack from the media and fans over his play the last couple of years.
However Smith doesn't buy it and believes Zaitsev has more to offer, especially offensively.
“He’ll have a lot more opportunity here to get some offensive starts and to do some things with the puck,” says Smith. “His role [in Toronto] was a bit more defensive. We’re going to expect that, but he’s learned the league now and I expect he can get a little more offence for sure.”
Does Smith believe Babcock was using him wrong?
He definitely believes Zaitsev will have a huge season in Ottawa.
“On a team that really needs defensive help, I think he’s really going to help us,” Smith explained. “He’s going to instill tough hockey on the back end here. He’s going to cross check you; he’s going to keep you away from the net. People are going to fall in love with his game sooner rather than later.”