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.


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. 


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.


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.



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. 

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.
#51 Tikkanese
January 28 2014, 02:25PM
Trash it!
Zarny wrote:

WTF are you smoking?

If Orpik or Niskanin hit the market the Oilers should investigate, but neither is a top pairing D.

Why on earth would the Oilers want Vrbata? He's a downgrade on RW to Eberle and Yakupov and he isn't a big, strong, physical player. Vrbata is basically Hemsky so that trade makes no sense.

The Oilers certainly aren't going to trade Yakupov for that package and Phx certainly isn't going to give up their 1st round pick as a substitute if Vrbata doesn't sign.

Callahan also doesn't add much value. He's a RW with less offense than Eberle and is only 5'11" 190 lbs. He's basically Hemsky with less skill but better defensively.

FYI...Nurse, Klefbom and Marincin all shoot left and play the left side...just like Ference.

You should dream bigger, or at least in a way that makes the Oilers better.

I agree on everything except your assessment on Callahan. He's basically Perron, not Hemsky. He plays even harder than Perron with a little less offense and is even better defensively. Not like Hemsky at all.

Who cares if he's 5'11"? He plays much harder than most. He's Captain of the Rangers for a good reason. I'll take guys like that any day over a "guy with size". Just because they have size doesn't mean they play with it. Callahan plays with much more than he has.

#52 Harry
January 28 2014, 03:21PM
Trash it!
Tikkanese wrote:

We surely need an experienced top pairing defenseman, if not two.

With so many rookies possibly ready to make the jump this year or next, we need a few stop gap D to spread those numbers out.

Marincin, Fedun and Nurse are strong possibilities to be ready next year. Marincin and Fedun are both arguably ready now. Not to mention Klefbom and Ekblad(if we draft him). There is also the possibility of near rookies Larsen and Belov coming back as well.

I can't see the Oilers contending for the playoffs with so many "green" NHL'ers.

For me, on paper at least, Fedun should be the only one to make the jump next year. Given his college experience and two years in the AHL he is the most seasoned and ready. Marincin so far looks ready but can the Oilers contend with two or more rookie defensemen in the lineup? Another year in the AHL for Marincin & Klefbom and junior for Nurse won't hurt them.

Why would Edm play Marincin 40+ games this year then send him back to the AHL next year?

I think Ference JSchultz Marincin and Klefbom will be our botton 4 next year

#53 Dog Train
January 28 2014, 03:34PM
Trash it!

Nikitin seems like he would be another bandaid solution who would be forced to play more minutes Edmonton against tougher competition and with less support. I think he would be an upgrade but how much of one remains to be seen. Maybe if J. Schultz takes a big leap next year then a stay-at-home guy like Nikitin might be a good fit as his partner.

#54 Will
January 28 2014, 04:52PM
Trash it!


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.

#55 Mack Strong
January 28 2014, 05:07PM
Trash it!
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

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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