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:

    • 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.