— Edmonton Oilers (@EdmontonOilers) December 10, 2015
Craig MacTavish made a very curious trade and signing in the summer of
2014, acquiring Nikita Nikitin from the Columbus Blue Jackets and then
signing him to a two-year, $9 million deal. It was the kind of
transaction that had most fans, media and observers wondering aloud
about the wisdom of it. Many months later, we are counting down on that contract, and Nikitin has a chance at redemption. What should we expect of him?
— OilersNation (@OilersNation) December 11, 2015
Last season was a tough one for Nikitin, he had back issues and that led to conditioning problems and on it went. His boxcar and fancy stats were not without merit:
- 5×5 points per 60: 0.54 (4th among regular D)
- 5×4 points per 60: 2.50 (3rd among regular D)
- Qual Team: 4th best available teammates among regular D (2nd pairing)
- Corsi for 5×5 %: 48.8%
- Corsi for 5×5 % REL: -1.2
- Shots on goal/percentage: 80 shots, 5.0%
- Boxcars: 42, 4-6-10
There is some good there, Nikitin is the best option available to draw in on the roster (Andrew Ference has been activated, so he may start the road trip in front of Nikitin). NN has a terrific shot from the point, something Edmonton needs (and may have in Brandon Davidson, although the club seems hesitant to play him there).
Dallas Eakins and Todd Nelson used Nikitin second pairing last year, he got some power-play time and he shot the puck a helluva lot (basically two shots a game). He was slightly less than average in possession, and that was with or without his teammates.
WHAT SHOULD WE EXPECT?
#Oilers D: Nurse-Sekera, Davidson-Gryba & Ference-Schultz. Nikitin, Klinkhammer and Pouliot are skating
— Chris Wescott (@TheChrisWescott) December 13, 2015
It looks like the Oilers may run Ference out in Boston, and Nikitin could get a start in New York or later in the road trip. It is important to remember Edmonton sent NN down because he was not able to beat out a bunch of unproven players, and part of the issue was conditioning.
I’ve already noticed his fitness level is better. He has more confidence.He’ll need to show his defensive play is good.” McLellan on Nikitin
— Jason Gregor (@JasonGregor) December 11, 2015
That is an important quote, because Nikitin may in fact be healthy, without back issues, and that could mean a far better player when he finally draws in. He will need to be in order to stay in the lineup. The kids who passed Nikitin kept on going, and have left Mark Fayne behind them (in the estimation of the management). This is an important month in the NHL career of Nikita Nikitin.