Oilers sign Nikitin


The Oilers signed Nikita Nikitin to a two-year deal worth $4.5 million/year. The price tag is $2 million/year too high, but the Oilers must feel they aren’t in a cap crunch and felt it was worth it to sign him for way more money for only two years. The one positive is this will allow the Oilers to develop Martin Marincin,  Oscar Klefbom and Darnell Nurse slowly rather than rush their development.

What does this signing signify?

  • It means Craig MacTavish and the Oilers recognize they are a few years away from being a real contender. They will never admit that, but a two year deal gives them a lot of flexibility for the future and it allows them to improve in the short term. Nikitin is better than Anton Belov, Mark Fraser, Philip Larsen, Corey Potter and Denis Grebeshkov. I know that isn’t saying much, but in theory he shold improve their blueline and he should be motivated to what to play well enough so that in two years he can sign a new contract worth the same money. I think at the midway point of the season fans will be furious with this signing, however.
  • This has no bearing on Jeff Petry or Justin Schultz. Both of them are restricted free agents, and if they elected to file for arbitration they wouldn’t be able to use Nikitin’s contract as a comparable because he was an unrestricted free agent.

    I don’t see why the Oilers need to sign Petry or Schultz for more than two years. At this point no one knows how good they will be, or conversely, if they’ve reached their peak. Of course the Oilers and players hope they will improve, but why overpay them now for a “best case scenario.”

    I could see the Oilers signing both of them for just under $6 million/year combined. Petry made $1.8 million last year, while Schultz’s base salary was $925,000. Signing Petry for $2.8-$3 mill/season and Schultz for $2.4-$2.6 million/year would be reasonable and fair. There is a risk that Petry could walk as a free agent at the end of his two year deal, but for me it is worth it to give him a bridge deal and see how he continues to develop.

    The Oilers need to start taking advantage of the negotiations when they have more leverage than the player.

  • Even with Nikitin’s new contract, the Oilers still have $20 million in cap space if they want to use it. Today they have have 17 players signed

    Eleven forwards: Hall, RNH, Eberle, Perron, Gagner, Yakupov, Hendricks, Gordon, Joenssu, Arcobello and Lander.

    Four D-men: Nikitin, Ference, Marincin and Klefbom

    Two goalies: Fasth and Scrivens.

    After they sign Petry and Schultz they should still have around $14 million. They could spend that on a two UFA forwards and another defenceman.

  • I think we all agree that Nikitin got more money than he was worth, but that is the harsh reality of being a perennial losing organization. Players won’t flock here unless you overpay, and at least the Oilers didn’t sign him for three or four years at that price tag. I don’t expect him to fix the Oilers blueline, far from it, but he has more experience than Schultz, Marincin, Klefbom and Nurse combined, and that might be the best thing about the signing. It means they won’t rush more D-men. 

    Nikitin is a top-four D-man on an average to below average NHL team, and right now that is what the Oilers are. In two years, if the young defenders develop into the players the Oilers expect them to be then Nikitin likely takes a pay cut to play on the third pairing or doesn’t return.

  • He was playing behind James Wisniewski, Fedor Tyutin, Jack Johnson and Ryan Murray in Columbus. The Oilers blueline doesn’t boast the same talent level. Nikitin will be a top four here, and he will be an improvement. You can look at his numbers when he played top-four minutes in 2012 and 2013 and he was a decent defender.
  • Essentially the Oilers traded Nick Schultz, at the end of his $3.5 million deal, for a 5th round pick, and then gave that pick back to Columbus for two years of Nikitin at $4.5. Nikitin still has room to improve, while Schultz was on his last legs. This signing isn’t great,  it is closer to bad, but at least it doesn’t limit the Oilers ability to make other moves long-term.
  • He also can play the point on the PP. He has a heavy shot and he shoots left, which is something the Oilers need.
  • What do you think of the deal?

Recently by Jason Gregor:

    • Quicksilver ballet

      Kind of different to see someone sign up for that Edmonton “bonus”. Hope this isn’t the only one this offseason.

      No real chance of any adequate depth with signings like these. Could the Oilers just roll three units of five and do away with the fourth line all together?

      Dress a pp/pk guy and maybe a Gazdic type as extra forwards?

    • pkam

      Do we have to give a 5th rounder to Columbus? Why didn’t we wait till UFA signing and save ourselves the 5th rounder pick?

      Does our management really think Nikitin will get an offer of 4.5M from other teams?

      • Are you worried about missing out on a gem in the 5th round of a well documented weaker draft class?…..

        PS – i look forward to your response of all the guys in the past 35 years who were drafted in the 5th round and went on to have NHL careers…

        • pkam

          If a 5th rounder doesn’t matter, why don’t we just give away all of them and later rounders? That is basically what we do here, unless the management believes our 4.5M offer may be beat by another NHL team.

      • Zarny

        Yes, CBJ gets the 5th round pick for NSchultz back.

        No, I doubt management thinks Nikitin gets $4.5M from other teams; $3.5-4M is more likely.

        Here is the thing…what if Nikitin decided he’d rather play in Dal or Det (just examples) for less money?

        Now in that case, the Oilers would have $4.5M to offer someone else; but who? Orpik maybe? Greene? Mitchell? How many UFAs available are for certain better than Nikitin? How many of those UFAs will sign with Edm?

        It’s a real possibility that the Oilers could have “lost” Nikitin to another team and come up with nothing else via UFA which leaves them with nothing.

        A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. I think that is what Oiler management is thinking.

          • BLAKPOO

            Edmonton can be a tough sell.

            Yes we overpaid. Considerably at $4.5M.

            The late pick to get his rights early? Huge for us.

            That’s a lot of extra time to be the only voice in his head. Show him the city, meet the people involved, scope out neighbourhoods and schools. That’s an enormous advantage. If he goes to market, does he even bother making the trip to Edmonton?

            Maybe a team like San Jose offers him $4M. Could happen. Why take the chance? Would he even consider the Oilers at $4.5M is he knew he could be living on the beach and playing for a perennial contender? Probably not.

            This was a smart move, and it worked. We’re a better team now.

            • pkam

              How do we know we are a better team now?

              Remember when we traded Gilbert for N. Schultz? Oilers fans were so excited about that trade. Even at the end of that season, fans still said we were better with N. Schultz than Gilbert. So who is better, N. Schultz or Gilbert?

              We had Smid at 3.5M for 3 more years, you can say we replace him with Nikitin at 4.5M for 2 years.

              Is Nikitin that much better than Smid? Time will tell but I have a hard time believing Nikitin is so much better than Smid.

            • BLAKPOO

              We are better because today we have a Nikitin.

              Yesterday we had zero Nikitins.

              This should be fairly easy to comprehend.

              WTF does Smid have to do with us trading a low pick for UFA rights?

            • BLAKPOO

              They’re not the same transaction.. you can’t compare them.

              It’s like saying we’re not a better team if we sign Joe Thornton because we traded Mark Messier once.

              Were we much worse after Smid left? Not really. We had other just as useless flotsam to fill the gaps. And we snagged Brossoit – who potentially could be our #1 here.

              If you absolutely need to make a comparison, we traded Nick Schultz for Nikitin.

            • pkam

              I still remember how positive Oilers fans were when we trade Gilbert for N. Schultz. With that trade, we at least save 0.5M a year and one year less left in the contract.

              I hope I am over worry and this turns out better.

          • Zarny

            Maybe not; maybe some team only offers him $3.5M ish. Tor gave Carl Gunnarsson $3.125M last year and Nikitin has certainly been better.

            The point is what do the Oilers do if Nikitin had decided to take that?

            It’s easy to say sign someone else but the reality is there isn’t much else.

            One top 30 UFA list available this year had Nikitin listed as the 5th best D available behind Niskanen, Boyle, Markov and Orpik. Tom Gilbert was ranked 6th.

            Markov is off the market and Boyle isn’t coming to Edm. Niskanen is going to have 10+ teams making offers. Highly unlikely he chooses Edm.

            So now you’re down to Gilbert, Orpik, Stralman etc. Maybe the Oilers get one if they let Nikitin walk but it’s also possible they get none of them.

            They call it the silly season for a reason. I think the fact the Oilers signed this contract before July 1st tells you how confident they are in luring additional UFAs this summer.

            • Zarny

              Ok. Fair enough. But why?

              If this deal impeded the Oilers from signing/acquiring a top 2C or top pairing D I understand the concern.

              It doesn’t though. The Oil probably can’t add both now but signing Stastny and acquiring Phaneuf is a bit of a pipe dream.

              So realistically, the options are for the Oilers is to be really sh*tty next year but have $10M in wasted, unused cap space versus being a better team and wasting some of Katz’ money.

              I’m fine with wasting a bit of Katz’ money for 2 yrs. It doesn’t impede developing from within. It doesn’t force MacT to move any assets for cap space.

            • pkam

              I haven’t watched Nikitin play so I am skeptical about how good he is. From what I heard, he is a 4/5 D in most NHL team, kind of like Smid (may be slightly better).

              Then why do we trade away Smid? Isn’t he a 4/5 NHL D playing 1st pairing with Petry here for the last 2-3 years? So we get rid of 3.5M so we can sign another 4/5 D at 4.5M? Are we really that much better with him than with Smid?

              If he is not better than Smid, what is his trade value? Smid didn’t get us much, did he?

              This signing just reminds me of the Gilbert/Schultz trade. The fans get excited every time we have a new toy then get disappointed again at the end.

            • SRELIOFAN

              Smid and Nikitin are not the same!

              Ladi’s best boxcars season was 11/12 He was 5g 10a 15p in 78 gp

              Niki’s best was also in 11/12 He was 7g 25a 32p in 54gp

              career, Nik is 13-52-65 +2 in 206gp

              Smid is 12-59-71 -49 in 530gp

              Nik has an offensive upside that Smid has never dreamt of.

      • Jason Gregor

        If the Oilers signed him before this year’s draft they gave up a pick in 2014 draft.

        If they signed him after the draft, then they give up a 5th in next year’s draft. Either way Columbus was getting if Edmonton signed him. They wouldn’t just deal his rights to Edmonton and get nothing if the Oilers signed him.

    • Zarny

      The over-payment leaves a bad taste, but 2 years mitigates the risk and Nikitin @ $4.5M is better than NSchultz @ $3.5M.

      Nikitin is a good example of why the Oilers will only be able to sign 2-3 UFAs. An over-payment of $1M by itself isn’t crippling but it adds up with a few players.

      If Mark Fayne hits the market the Oilers need to push hard to sign him. I’m sure the Oilers will talk to Stastny too but both are going to have a lot of suitors. The remaining solutions will need to come via trade.

    • Bucknuck

      Will the Oilers be better with Nikitin in the lineup?

      Do they still have cap room to plug more holes?

      The answer to both of these is “YES”, so people should be happy. I know I am.

    • Tikkanese

      This signing might help lure other UFA’s a little as they will see that the Oilers are serious about improving. By filling one of their holes before UFA season even started.

    • Craig1981

      You can’t sign players unless you are a good team…..unless you are a good team you can’t sign players.

      I think using cap space on short term deals is a good way to approach this problem. Maybe the Oil finish 15-20th this year and aren’t listed on players 10 teams they won’t be traded for or a UFA wants to sign here even!

      That is as long as the pro scouts got this right and this is the guy you want to overpay

    • bwar

      “After they sign Petry and Schultz they should still have around $14 million.”

      After this contract? Oilers will be lucky to have 10 million left once they have to pony up for Schultz and Petry. The Oilers defense is quickly changing into a cap nightmare.

      • Zarny

        Even at 10-12M to sign a couple or more UFA’s should not be to hard . We still have trade options that might/could increase the bottom line . Using our youth helps keep us under budget as well as AHL’ers . We still have plenty of options available at this time and I doubt it will be all UFA’s .

    • Why are fans not more happy that the Oilers are now a better team? At only two years this deal does not handcuff the team in any kind of cap situation.

      If the day comes when Stasny says,”well I wanted to ply for the Oilers and was only asking 5 mill to do so, but they didn’t have cap room left so I took Calgary’s offer instead,” then complain away. Till then, spend Katz’s money!

    • pkam

      A bit of an overpay, but at least he has good size. Petry and Schultz for 6 million? That seems a little low.

      Keep going MacT, still need more bodies to fill the roster.

    • bazmagoo

      Pretty sad we had to overpay that much for his services, but it’s not my money! Just happy to have an actual NHL defenceman sign with the team, it’s been quite a while. Great to give Nurse, Marincin and Klefbom a bit of a chance to develop properly. Ideally we’d have another guy on the left, but I’m gonna bet this is it. @Gregor – the Oilers definitely need to start using their leverage when they have the chance.

    • bazmagoo

      Sorry to be negative gentlemen, but this signing just reinforces my thought that the Oilers management team just has pretty much nothing going for it. Hoping Nikitin proves me wrong, but this guy was benched leading into the playoffs only to be replaced by Nick Schultz! How the funk is he worth $9 million over two seasons? And how, please can someone tell me how is he the defenceman that ends up being targeted by us? Brutal. Just hope this motivates the heck out of Marincin, Klefbom and Nurse.

    • TKB2677

      I absolutely LOVE the term of 2 years but I’m not a fan of the dollar amount.

      That being said he’s a UFA and you ALWAYS overpay for a UFA. Plus in order to get a short term deal, you typically have to pay more money. I’m sure if the Oilers had offered 3 yrs, it would of been in the 4 mill range. If they offered 4 yrs, it would of been in the 3’s where he belongs.

      The Oilers need NHL Dmen. They need dmen that can make it so the kids can develop. The money is a little steep but at 2 only years, the Oilers got exactly what they needed. In 2 years a few of the kids will be ready for prime time and he’s gone.

      Nikitin is an upgrade over N. Schultz. He’s an upgrade over Belov, Larsen, Fraser, Potter, Gebeshkov. So not too bad.

    • Johnnydapunk

      Well, could be worse, at least the deal was done and it’s not a massive contract length wise so not so so bad, but it’s not too shocking of an overpay.

      As he used to play on the same team as Belov in Russia, I’m sure that bumped the salary up a bit more as from what I remember, Belov didn’t exactly leave on “happy” terms.

      In the end, at least MacT is getting what’s needed, one piece at a time.

      Just hoping for just one signing to get excited about, still early and silly season doesn’t start for a other week so fingers crossed.

      There are a fair few teams that are tight for cap space so the Oil could still swing some deals or signings at least.

    • pkam

      I got no problem with the overpay. For the suckiest team in the league, did anyone think players would be taking a pay cut to come here?

      I hope the Oilers spend every last penny of Katz’s (meaning our) money on players….don’t leave anything in the bank. As a matter of fact, I hope they trade their 1st round draft pick for 2015 and bundle it with Samwise Gagner on a decent player here and now. Let’s get this going for 2014/2015. Maybe McDavid is all that, but he won’t be playing for three years after that, and there is no savior out there who can turn a franchise around singlehandedly.

      Let’s have an awesome year, Oil!

    • CMG30

      I see lots of people are worried about how this will affect the upcoming Petry or Schultz negotiations. Rest easy, it doesn’t impact them. They are both RFA unlike Nikitin who is an UFA. Even if they were go to arbitration this contract is not a comparable.

      Make no mistake, the two are due for a raise but it won’t be 4.5m or even 4m in either case. The only way they would get that kind of money is if some other team gave them an offer sheet… but I just don’t see that happening…

      • pkam


        If you believe other NHL teams will offer 4.0-4.5M to Nikitin, why wouldn’t they offer the same money to an offersheet for Petry? Is Nikitin really better than Petry?

        Schultz is an unknown commodity at this moment due to his lack of NHL experience. But I believe he will come out as the best of the 3 in a few years. I will take the gamble if Schultz is willing to sign long term (6 year or more) at 4.5M. I believe the contract will start to pay off from the 3rd year.

            • SRELIOFAN

              I think it is likely the Shames would have been willing to go beyond 6.5M (if they had to) if there was no compensation involved.

              It logical to assume that in the case where the asset costs you $ plus other assets versus just $, you can up the $ part.

            • pkam

              Not just the Shames, but the Avs as they match the offersheet. So what make you think Petry will not fetch 4.5M or more if O’Reilly can fetch 6.5M. All you need is just one crazy team. Did anyone here think Nitikin will get 4.5M before the announcement? How about Gaborik get 4.875M per year for another 7 years?

    • BobbyCanuck

      Katz will spend to the cap, it’s his money.

      Overpay, Overpay, Overpay. What effect does this have on you or I? As long as the cap is managed for the future, what does it really matter to Joe Fan?

      Wanna know my overpay? Spending $500 to take the wife to watch St.Louis THRASH our team, I wanted to go home after the second period, but we bought 50/50 tix. So had to stay, I will admit the jersey toss was priceless.

      I am just happy we have an actual NHL calibre D-Man, as opposed to all the ‘potential’ on our team.

    • Holy crap, Mac T signed another NHL Dman! Over paid but hey, this is the 27th Place Oilers were talking about, plus as others have mentioned… now Nurse will get his 9 games and another year on the farm. Good move, not “bold” but I like it.

    • pkam

      At the end of the day the Oilers are better today than they were yesterday. Comparing Nikitin to Smid is laughable.

      A UFA generally looks for a long term contract for security. So the Oilers had to overpay to convince him to take a short term contract.

      Its really that simple.

      And the fact that MacT recognized that a short term big annual money contract was better for the Oilers situation than a long term middle money contract makes me more confident that he has a plan.

      I like the move. Exactly what the Oilers needed.

    • pkam

      The price of UFA’s is generally atrocious and rarely do the owners get full value . The less you have to use that marketplace the better off you usually are . There are still a few buyouts we might explore that might have better value .

    • Mike Modano's Dog

      I like this deal. Simply put the oilers get Better on D with only giving up a fifth.

      Is this great for the Oilers – no, maybe not…but a real player on the back end in his prime for a fifth is awesome. Thank God it’s a two year deal only though so we will have cap flexibility when we need it down the road.

      A 28 yr old Nikitin instead of Scultz the elder is one move in the right direction, now we need a lot more!


      Honestly, I don’t see why we should care about overpaying a player to come here as long as he is a veteran who improves our team. It’s not like we are the ones paying him 4.5 Mil every year… And cap space isn’t an issue. So who cares!

    • pkam

      Our team is a little bit better today with Nikitin’s addition. He is clearly a better player than any of the 5 guys that have departed, a small step but a necessary one.
      I for one don’t miss Smid the guy could not make a first pass if his life depended on it and his best attribute was sacrificing his body to block a shot.