Artem Zub is officially an Ottawa Senator. The much-ballyhooed defenceman signed a one-year entry-level contract with the club Friday. Per Cap Friendly, the deal pays a $925,000 salary plus Type A performance-based bonuses to a maximum of $850,000.
Type A bonuses may include total ice-time, goals, points, plus-minus. A player earns $212,500 for each plateau reached.
The contract includes a European Assignment Clause rather than an American League demotion.
Zub’s signing finally ends the chatter that first appeared on Senators’ fans radar in late-January when TSN Insider Darren Dreger mentioned the team’s interest in the KHL veteran.
INSIDER TRADING: #TSNHockey Insiders discuss…
🏒 Jets’ trade deadline options
🏒 Interest in Brenden Dillon
🏒 #NHL measures for CGY/EDM this week
🏒 Sens & Pageau
🏒 Interest in KHL D Artyom Zub
🏒 Update on CBA talks
— TSN Hockey (@TSNHockey) January 28, 2020
A right-handed shot, Zub is viewed as next season’s replacement for Dylan DeMelo who was dispatched to the Winnipeg Jets prior to the trade deadline. Known as a steady, no-frills d-man – barring any further changes, Zub will likely fill out the right side of the Senators depth chart along with fellow Russian Nikita Zaitsev and Christian Wolanin who’s on a one-way contract in 2020-21. Christian Jaros will also vie for ice-time, as will 20-year old Erik Brannstrom who can play either side on the team’s back end.
The current league leader in time-on-ice per game (26:00), Thomas Chabot mans the left side of the Senators’ blue line with the possibility of Brannstrom, pending free agent Mark Borowiecki, Mike Reilly, and Max Lajoie. Olle Alsing arrives from Djurgardens but is slated to open in Belleville, the team’s American League affiliate.
The competition may leave another pending UFA, Ron Hainsey seeking an alternate destination. However, there’s little doubt General Manager Pierre Dorion is only in the infancy stage of shaping his team’s d-corps next season.
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In Zub, the Senators get a 24-year old (turning 25, October 3), who’s already made several appearances on a world stage – earning Bronze in the 2017 and 2019 World Championships and Olympic Gold in 2018. Zub was also a KHL Gagarin Cup winner with league champion SKA St. Petersburg in 2017.
In a teleconference on April 14, Dorion said that he and assistant GM Peter MacTavish each viewed Zub at different times in Russia earlier this season.
“(AGM) Peter (MacTavish) and myself had a chance to see this player play overseas. Peter went before Christmas. I went after Christmas. Our pro scouts who had seen him play in international tournaments, really like this player. We feel he’s NHL-ready. But until he makes a decision, we hope he signs with us, we know he’s someone who can help us out in the near future,” Dorion told reporters on a Zoom call.
— Dan Milstein-Hockey (@HockeyAgent1) December 25, 2019
In a conversation with Full Press Coverage, one NHL executive who views the KHL on a regular basis gave this synopsis on Zub, “He has good size, moves okay, but his feet are heavy at times. He plays a simple puck game in using outlets and transition – scored plenty this year, but most of his shots were through traffic or poor goals. Will likely play on the penalty kill. The Senators get a free player.”
The exec echoed Dorion’s sentiments in that Zub is NHL-ready and could turn his one-year deal favourably into a “bigger payday” the following year.
Artem Zub KHL Career
Not known as a point-producer from the blue line, Zub’s 13 goals this past season tied him for second among KHL d-men. His 22 points more than doubled his previous high of nine. In 256 KHL regular season games, Zub compiled 54 points (19 goals, 35 assists). In his sixth KHL campaign, Zub tied for the league-lead in plus/minus (+35).
“We’re pleased that Artem has elected to pursue an NHL career in Ottawa,” said Senators General Manager Pierre Dorion in a team media release. “Artem is a smart defensive defenceman who moves the puck well and who utilizes his strength and mobility to make plays. His extensive international resume will help him transition to a North American style of play, but his key attribute his sound ability to defend.”
Unfortunately for Senators’ fans, it may be a long wait before they see Zub hit the ice at the Canadian Tire Centre. First, the remainder of this season still has to be completed. Though it’s appearing likely, the timeline is yet to be confirmed.
Follow Murray Pam on Twitter @pammerhockey