Maple Leafs, Senators kick off free agency day with trade
By JOHN WAWROW and STEPHEN WHYNO
NHL free agency day began with two rivals helping each other out of a jam by way of a trade.
The Toronto Maple Leafs acquired defenseman Cody Ceci, a 2020 third-round pick and minor leaguers Ben Harpur and Aaron Luchuk from the Ottawa Senators for defenseman Nikita Zaitsev, forward Connor Brown and minor leaguer Michael Carcone. The teams announced the trade early Monday, roughly 3+ hours before the start of free agency.
The deal represents a much-needed change of scenery for Ceci, Zaitsev and Brown. Zaitsev had asked to be traded and waived his no-trade clause to complete the move across Ontario.
Salary cap-strapped Toronto, which still needs to sign restricted free agent forward Mitch Marner to a new contract, clears $6.6 million in space. Ceci is a restricted free agent who needs a new contract and has arbitration rights, but the Maple Leafs likely need him on their thin blue line.
Zaitsev is signed for $4.5 million a season through 2023-24. Brown has one year left on his contract and should get more ice time in Ottawa than in Toronto with its glut of talented young forwards.
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Updated July 1, 2019