HARD TARGET SEARCH: NIKITA NIKITIN

Lowetide
January 28 2014 07:26AM

On Remembrance Day 2011, Columbus Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson traded for D Nikita Nikitin. It was one of his better trades, and the possibility exists for executive and player to reunite this summer in Edmonton.

TRADE!

At the time, Nikitin was a fairly obscure defenseman to most NHL fans, having played fewer than 30 games in the big leagues. The Jackets felt they knew what they were getting.

  • Columbus Head Coach Scott Arniel: "He's a big-body defensemen, a defending defensemen. He has a big shot. We'll get him in here and see what he's all about. This was more about changing our look on the back end. Our scouts think he can play a well-rounded game."

Earlier this season, it was suggested that the Oilers might be in the market for Nikitin, either via trade or free agency (he'll be UFA this coming summer). In the first of a series, I'll look at possible solutions for the 2014-15 Oilers defense. 

IT WORKED IN C-BUS!

Nikitin has been a quality NHL defenseman for the Blue Jackets, and has done it on a very fair deal. In the 2011-12 season he was gold for the Jackets, but slid some in the shortened 2012-13 season. This year, he's been up and down, playing as much as 22.5 minutes some nights and being a healthy scratch in others.

Nikitin is playing mostly with David Savard this season and is about 50% Corsi For at 5x5 and that's a good number. He and Savard are not facing the tough competition this season.

THE VOLLMAN SLEDGEHAMMER

Rob Vollman's wonderful toy at the Hockey Abstract will serve as our guide through the Columbus blue. As you can see, Nikitin is playing against the soft parade and his offsensive zone starts are in no way severe (Tyutin and Jack Johnson are the the ones climbing Everest). Notice Ryan Murray's getting the push in terms of zone start and mid-level opposition, and further notice he's in a blue (good) bubble.

This is the previous season, Nikitin is playing tougher opposition and has a more severe zone start than in his current season. Johnson and Dalton Prout are getting the toughest zone starts, but the Russians haven't got it easy either. Nikitin is a useful NHL player in this season.

This is Nikitin's first season with the Jackets, and obviously the most effective. He's playing tough minutes and doing it while starting in his own zone a lot (this is 11-12). Nikitin's value in this season to Columbus would have been terrific.

WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?

 

The Oilers need to get it  right this summer on the blue. A top-pairing defender who is proven and can play in all three disciplines is vital. Craig MacTavish may in fact call on Scott Howson for an update on Nikita Nikitin and the scouting report may be positive from the former Columbus GM. 

Nikitin can certainly play NHL defense, and that has value. I think he falls well short of being a proven top-pairing solution at this time. We'll have another look at him at the end of the NHL season. Up next: Florida's  surprising gem. 

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Lowetide has been one of the Oilogosphere's shining lights for over a century. You can check him out here at OilersNation and at lowetide.ca. He is also the host of Lowdown with Lowetide weekday mornings 10-noon on TSN 1260.
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#51 Johnnydapunk
January 28 2014, 01:48PM
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Randaman wrote:

Ya come to think of it I do. His name is Darnell Nurse. Another year in Junior will not enhance his development. Bring in a solid #2 guy to help bring him along. I think by next year he's ready. Gagner and something should get a #2 guy I would think. Not sure what the something would be. Then draft Dal Cole for a second line LW/C behind Hall.

I don't know if Nurse would be ready for the NHL just yet. Ideally I would think that a year in the AHL (if he is eligible) couldn't do any harm. The concern I have and maybe it isn't justified is his size, he is very tall but also relatively light for his height. I could be completely wrong on that. This next statement is gonna rain hate, but the Oil need to be patient with their prospects and give them time to develop as bringing them up too soon has been a problem (again in my view) and it wouldn't harm players, especially younger ones to take their time to develop into proper NHLers.

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#52 pkam
January 28 2014, 03:11PM
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Will wrote:

So a team loaded with defenders wouldn't want to trade a guy who has a big cap hit plying on their second pairing defence, and another guy who will be a free agent at the end of the summer for a 1st overall selection sniper, and yet another defensive prospect who is tracking incredibly well to keep their pool deep?

I understand this trade might be crazy if Vrbata decides to resign in Phoenix, but as of yet that hasn't happened, and Yandle is looking more and more expendable on that team.

But forget the trade, I don't think it's necessary given the free agent crop coming up this year. Now is the time to go the Calgary route and overpay in free agency for one or two guys to help balance out the team. One or two free agents and maybe a big trade (like above) and this could be a whole new ball game.

A team loaded with defenders doesn't mean they have to sell cheap. It just mean they can afford to unload some defender to the teams that need some.

The return is determined by the quality of the player, the number of similar players available and the number of teams that are interested. In, other words, the price is determined by 2 factors, how good the player is, and the supply and demand.

Yandle is a 1st pairing Dman. Letang just signed for 7.25M and Phaneuf just signed for 7M. 5.25M is not big cap hit but a very cap friendly contract for a 1st pairing dman.

And I will rather take their 1st rounder over Vrbata. If they refuse, I will offer Vrbata 3 years @1M and I don't think he will take it, so we will end up with their 1st rounder. If he takes it, 1M for a 50 pts player, not bad.

Yak + Nurse / Klefbom / Marincin for Yandle and their 1st rounder (looks like they may miss the playoff so a lottery pick). I wish there are more trades like this.

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#53 Will
January 28 2014, 04:52PM
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@pkam

I think that would work for both teams. I really can't see them giving up their first rounder and Yandle though. Especially considering the rumoured asking price was something like Ebs and both our first and second rounders for Yandle.

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#54 Mack Strong
January 28 2014, 05:07PM
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A-Mc wrote:

Brooks Orpik: 33YO, 6'2" 219lbs defenseman. Salary: 3.75M/yr
Nikita Nikitin: 27YO, 6'4" 223 lbs defenseman. Salary: 2.15M/yr

Let go of Potter, NSchultz (Trade them at the deadline for picks. Maybe pickup a 3rd rounder to replace the one we used for Scrivens).

Sign Orpik, Nikita to decent salaries (Even if they are over paid a bit) and Belov as a re-up.

Your Blueline looks like this:

Orpik / Petry
Ference / JSchultz
Nikitin / Belov
Marincin

Not bad in the Size department! The average Height is 6'2.5" Avg Weight is 202.5lbs. Justin Schultz and Marincin are still growing and Petry still needs to put on a bit of weight, so that will go up.

------Ht(In) Weight
Orpik 74 219
Nikitin 76 223
Belov 76 218
Petry 75 195
Jschultz 74 188
Ferrence 71 187
Marincin 76 188

Was at the game against the nucks in Vancouver last night…

All 4 lines looked good! I'm going to eat my words here but Hendricks brings so much energy, physicality, and hustle to Jones and Gordon!

I dont liltlike these pick ups that you proposed bc you put Marincin on the outside looking in. With the way he looks since being brought up…..it would be a dam shame to put him behind someone like Orpik. Marincin (it still early to tell for sure) looks like the real deal. He was physical, he didn't let good strong forwards like Kesler, or the Sedins have any space and was strong on the boards.

Marincin needs to be allowed to develop. And it looks like he is taking this opportunity. When Nurse, Gernat and Musil come around (hopefully) and with possibly Ekblad in the mix defence looks in good hands.

My opinion is to bring in an experienced and strong leader in on D. Ference is not the leader of the D or this team.

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#55 admiralmark
January 29 2014, 07:07PM
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Great another 2nd pairing D man. Just what we need. All we got is 2nd pairing d men we don't need another.

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