The Senators have long been the front-runners to sign Russian defenseman Artyom Zub and it appears that they will indeed be getting him. After a report earlier in the week had Ottawa on Zub’s shortlist, TSN’s Darren Dreger reports that the Sens are expected to sign him to an entry-level contract. His KHL contract runs through the end of April so an official announcement won’t come until May at the earliest.
The 24-year-old has been on the NHL radar for the last couple of years after a strong showing at the 2018 Olympics. While he hasn’t been a big point producer with SKA St. Petersburg of the KHL (though he managed 22 points this year), he has been a reliable defender in his own end and logged more than 19 minutes a night this season. Zub also had a +35 rating in 57 games; while plus/minus isn’t as important as it once was among stats; it’s worth noting that the next best defender in that stat on his team was only +12.
Ottawa’s back end is certainly in need of some improvements with several spots up for grabs for next season. Thomas Chabot, Nikita Zaitsev, and Mike Reilly are the only established blueliners under contract for 2020-21 so Zub could certainly step into an important role right away and give them a quality upgrade as they look to start progressing towards battling for a playoff spot.