The Columbus Blue Jackets have traded negotiating rights for pending UFA Nikita Nikitin to the Edmonton Oilers. With this move, the Oilers get an early start to shoring up their blue line and add one of the best sounding names to their roster.
Nikitin is coming off a two year, $4.3 million deal with the Columbus Blue Jackets. During the 2013-14 season, Nikitin finished with 15 points (two goals and 13 assists in 66 games).
EDM acquires negotiating rights to pending UFA D Nikita Nikitin from CBJ.
— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) June 20, 2014
Nikitin saw his special teams role with the Columbus Blue Jackets diminish last season. According to a tweet from Extraskater, two seasons ago, Nikitin played 43% of the Blue Jackets power play time and 49% for the PK. In 2013-14, that percentage dropped to 14% and 13% respectively.
Due to their depth on the blue line, the Columbus Blue Jackets no longer had a spot for Nikitin. Nick Schultz took his place in the line up in the final days of the regular season, Nikitin was a healthy scratch. He had no points in the five playoff games he appeared in. With players like Ryan Murray and Tim Erixon ready to break out, Nikitin is the type of player the Blue Jackets can part with.
The Oilers are desperate for defensive depth and with Nikitin they get an experienced blue liner that can play second or third pairing type minutes. Nikitin played a huge role in Columbus while they worked to build defensive depth. No that that role has been fulfilled, he can do the same for Edmonton.
However, the Oilers still need to sign Nikitin to a deal, as the Columbus Blue Jackets only traded away his rights. If the Oilers cannot come to terms with Nikitin, he will test free agency. Considering their prior interest in him, as well as the desperation to rebuild their blue line, it is highly unlikely that such a scenario would occur.