Oilers trade for Nikitin’s rights…


The Edmonton Oilers have acquired the negotiating rights to pending unrestricted free agent Nikita Nikitin. If they sign him, they will need to give the Blue Jackets a draft pick most likely.

Basically the Oilers got a window of opportunity that allows them to negotiate exclusively with Nikitin. They are able to try and negotiate a contract with him up until July 1st. Starting next Wednesday, other teams can talk to Nikitin, but they can’t offer formal contracts.

Scott Howson traded for Nikitin when he was the GM in Columbus, and he knows him well. If the Oilers sign Nikitin before the draft they will surrender a pick this year, but if they sign him after the draft then it will be a pick next year. Either way it will be a late round pick. If they don’t sign him, Columbus gets nothing.

At this point it is hard to say where he fits in, but he is likely a #4 or a 3rd pairing guy.

Player  Team  GP  G  A  P +/-  PIM  PPG  PPP  S  TOI/G 
2014 Nikita Nikitin CBJ 66 2 13 15 9 20 0 0 95 17:06
2013 Nikita Nikitin CBJ 38 3 6 9 2 17 1 2 60 21:11
2012 Nikita Nikitin CBJ 54 7 25 32 -5 14 3 9 93 23:34
2012 Nikita Nikitin STL 7 0 0 0 -5 4 0 0 10 20:14
2011 Nikita Nikitin STL 41 1 8 9 1 10 0 4 46 16:23

Two years ago, he played the most minutes and produced the most points.

However, as the Blue Jackets signed better D-men his icetime diminished and he only played 17:06/game this past year. In the playoffs he was the 6th D-man for the Blue Jackets. That doesn’t guarantee he’ll only be a 6th D-man here, but it suggests he’ll need to improve if he wants to play impactful minutes with the Oilers.

The Oilers need some veteran D-men so they don’t have to rush their young defenders, and if Nikitin can do that for a season then he’ll be a good signing. I’m interested to see the term of his contract. The Oilers can’t give him more than three years, and I think two would be ideal, but will he sign for only two years when he is only 28 years old?

Teams usually over pay and give longer terms to UFAs, and if he wants three years, then I’d offer him a lower average salary.

This is how he was deployed, at 5×5, the past three years in Columbus.

Player  GP  TOI%  ZS  OZS%  NZS%  DZS%  ZS%  ZS%
OZShr  NZShr  DZSh
2014 Nikita Nikitin 66 32.00% 880 33.60% 31.60% 34.80% 49.20% 1.70% 33.90% 26.00% 32.40%
2013 Nikita Nikitin 38 33.50% 600 28.70% 39.00% 32.30% 47.00% -3.20% 33.50% 37.70% 36.30%
2012 Nikita Nikitin 54 36.40% 850 27.90% 35.30% 36.80% 43.10% -4.30% 36.50% 34.50% 40.60%

He was used more in the offensive zone this past season, when he played fewer minutes, and that is likely due to the emergence of Ryan Murray.

His possession stats from the past three seasons are okay, but not great.

FF%  FF%
GF  GA  GF%  GF%
2014 66 987 49.20% -1.90% 48.70% -2.30% 39 31 55.70% 4.20%
2013 38 606 46.10% -1.70% 45.80% 0.50% 25 21 54.30% 2.70%
2012 54 910 51.10% 5.70% 52.50% 7.40% 38 39 49.40% 2.90%

In 2012, he had the best CF% of every Jacket’s defender, and last year he was third on the team, behind Murray and James Wisniewski. Keep in mind he was playing 3rd line minutes and easier competition than Fedor Tyutin and Jack Johnson. He played with Tyutin in 2012, and that had a lot to do with his numbers. I see him as a stop-gap #4, and when the Oilers young guys are ready he becomes a 3rd pair defender.

Nikitin had better numbers when he played more minutes, which isn’t always the case, and I wonder if part of that was due to him being more into the game. He didn’t sit on the bench for long stretches, and for a big guy his body likely stayed warmer and he felt like he was into the game more.

If the Oilers sign him they should expect him to be a four, five or a six, and hopefully he gets paid in that range.

He shoots left, but he can play right or left defence, which makes him more valuable.

At the right price I’d be okay with Nikitin, but no one should expect him to be a top-minute defender.

I’d be surprised the Oilers offer “major money,” but I guess it depends what the agent considers major. Interesting tidbit from Aaron Portzline the Blue Jacket’s best beat reporter.


Gary Bettman sent out a memo to every NHL team on Wednesday regarding the free agent interview process. If you recall, last year Bettman told clubs they could not discuss any contract terms or dollars during the interview process. It was a ridiculous thing to say, because it made the interviews pointless.

Many GMs didn’t like it, and they expressed their concern to Count Bettman. The commissioner agreed with them and the basis of his memo was that teams can now discuss the parameters of a deal.

“Please be advised that clubs are permitted to discuss the potential
interest in as well as general parameters of a potential future
contractual relationship with another club’s pending RFA or UFA during
the applicable interview periods. The clubs may not enter any agreements
or make any binding offers, promises, … oral or written concerning the
terms of a potential SPC (standard players contract) with another club’s
pending RFA or UFA.”

That was the gist of Bettman’s memo according to Mike Russo.

It makes sense, but it is ridiculous to expect teams not to enter into any verbal talks about a potential deal. Two years ago I had drinks with an agent after the NHL draft, and he told me that two of his clients had already been to an NHL city, spoke to the GM and discussed contracts. Both of those deals were announced in the first two days of free agency, with the exact figures the agent had told me over drinks.

It is ludicrous for the commissioner to think teams, agents and players won’t discuss the exacts details of a contract, however, this new format does make it more fair than it was before when certain teams weren’t afraid to break the rules.

Recently by Jason Gregor:

  • Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)

    The guy played on a team that made the playoffs last year! The Playoffs!

    If he’s good enough for Gregor and RickitheBear he’s good enough for me. If we bring him in under Smids salary then bonus…..Smid and Nick Schultz for Nikitin and Broisoitt, not bad…..Howson knows him well so bonus there….he’s Russian so bonus there…mentor pYak and mYak* and Shlepy!

    My only concern would be games played….he hasn’t played a lot of games in any of the last four years….is he injury prone?

    * or should it be nYak and bYak? Or Little Yak and Big Yak?

  • bazmagoo

    If we end up getting Nikitin, I bet it’s at 3 years, 3.25 million per year. Bit of an overpay, but allows Nurse, Klefbom and others the opportunity to develop their game instead of being thrown to the wolves in the NHL.

  • Sevenseven

    If we dont break the bank, this looks a ton better than Grebeshkov. Could this finally be a move where the oilers trade a late draft pic for a legitimate roster defenseman? One who can still develop a little more? I would love to see the oilers win this deal. This could be the transaction that makes up for smid.

  • The Oilers should over pay at least 3 players to the tune of at least 2 million per player.

    If other teams are prepared to pay a NHL player lets say 4 million the Oilers should pay 6 million to make sure they get them. I few playoff games would more than pay for the players and we would have a NHL team.

    Older useful NHL players wont come to a losing team unless they make more money or want to live here. They want to go to a team that has a chance to win a cup while they are useful.

    So Oiler please overpay and lets get on with a playoff run

  • Based soley on the history of our pro scouting, the desperation a move like this shows, the previous contracts the oilers have handed out in the past, and the fact that Nikitin was scratched in favour of Nick Shultz. I’m very interested to see how Connor McDavid does this year.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    No way he signs anything before Free agency begins. There needn’t be a hurry to get a deal done for a definite B level defenceman.

    Oilers should be hammering away on Garth Snow for that 5th selection. Landing both Bennett and Draisaitl is a far greater need.

      • Quicksilver ballet

        No. Certainly not since ownership and management stopped caring.

        Clearly they should have listened to me. This perhaps has a lot to do with why a playoff appearance is still 5 yrs away.

        Taylor and Tyler

        Landeskog and RNH

        Ryan Murray and Alex Galchenyuk

        Bennett and Draisaitl

        It’s all wandering in the desert, till our billionaire owner stops shopping at Value Village.

        • Thumby

          Clearly you know more about player development than Stu and company.How is it your not running our draft.Or Maggie the monkey? Why?Because hindsight is always 100% and makes people look good after the fact rather than when the descision has to be made.

          I’ll be happy with whoever they choose or not choose.

          • Quicksilver ballet

            “Stu and company” have been in charge since 2007.

            7 yrs later, the Oilers are still a 28th place hockey club. Even you, or your Maggy the monkey could’ve done a better job than that.

          • Sorensenator

            You would think 7 years of new scouting would bring in better players. It did, however, at the expense of a couple 30th place finishes. (Hall, Nuge) The Oilers are just climbing out of the dark draft ditch that plagued them for years. They picked Marc Pouliot in 2003 when virtually every team in the NHL got a good player in the first round. The Oilers have nobody still in the system from those days – now that Hemsky is gone.

        • Reds

          If management listened to you, somehow the team would be in a bigger hole than before.

          Because keep tanking for picks and putting young guys right in the spotlight has worked so well for the Oilers these past few years.

          We don’t need more high end picks. We need more capable NHL players.

          • Quicksilver ballet

            We don’t need more high end picks. We need more capable NHL players.


            There are actual players literally beating down the doors to get here, are there? Nobody has heard the words, thanks, but no thanks more than Edmontons management group.

            Like it or not, these kids are the only hope Edmonton will ever have at having “capable NHL players”. What part of this don’t you understand? Don’t be too taken aback now that Nikitin, a bottom pairing blueliner on a good team has also said no to MacTavish.

            Just open your wallet and the actual NHL players will flood this market, yeah right. Like it or not, more kids is the only option available to this market. Till there’s something here that actually resembles an NHL team anyways.

  • bwar

    I think MacT’s strategy is to make Petry & Schultz expendable so that other teams will offer sheet them resulting in the Oilers gaining two extra chances at McDavid.

  • bazmagoo

    In terms of development, it’d probably be a good thing to start Marincin in the AHL and Klefbom in the NHL. Two caveats, the competition for a spot on the team between them would need to be palpable. Plus you can’t really go into next season with two rookies on the left side can you, Oilersnation is a pretty observant fan base and that would reek of another year not trying to win. Revenue is being effected by the constant losing, that’s just inevitable after 8 seasons out of the playoffs. 9 seasons out of the playoffs in November could possibly represent $10,000,000 bucks out of pocket for Katz, just a blind estimate but reasonable. Tanking got us 3 first overall picks, a 3rd overall, a 7th overall, so hopefully that develops into a competitor.

  • camdog

    Nikitin, averaged 7th on Blue Jackets in minutes per game for d-man that played significant minutes. Looks like he is Belov’s potential replacement on the team.

    • oilerbuff

      nikitin is a puck moving d-man. a little on the defensively irresponsible side so Ramsey will have to try n shape.him up a bit. he does hit but could be.more aggressive considering his size, doesn’t get a lot of penalty minutes. he showed some good offensive potential before being bumped down.the.depth.chart. I think he could get the shot of living more up to his offensive potential in Edmonton. I think it’s a definite upgrade over Belov. I like the pick up. costs nothing if we can’t sign him. costs next to nothing if we can. worth a shot

    • Sorensenator

      Nikitin had a ridiculous season 3 years ago with 32 points in only 54 games and looked like the next big thing in Columbus. Since then his play has dropped off as his minutes. When you have Fedor Tyutin, James Wisniewski, Jack Johnson, and Ryan Murray ahead of you in the depth chart, it is pretty difficult to get minutes and regular power play time.

      He will be a nice addition with the Oilers if he signs.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Beggars can’t be choosers.

    If Nikitin is the only poor mans top pairing blueliner who’ll come here, then definitely no longer than a 3 yr deal.

  • Serious Gord

    Yet another acquisition – or at least an attempt at one – where there is a connection to the organization already. It almost as if it’s a rule that no strangers are allowed in.

    And it almost happens often enough to be made into a drinking game.