Not many people would know Nikita Nikitin better than Oilers Sr. Vice President of Hockey Operations Scott Howson. He was the general manager of the Columbus Blue Jackets when they acquired Niktin in a trade with the St. Louis Blues in 2011. Now the two will be reunited as the Oilers have traded for Nikitin’s rights.
When Nikitin first got to Columbus, he played a big role on the team. But with the Blue Jackets defence getting better and better his role was reduced.
“We needed some size and he came in and played really well, the time I was in Columbus,” Howson told Oilers Colour Analyst Bob Stauffer. “He can play the right side, he’s a big body and he’s got a great shot. His play has fallen off a little bit. I think his role fell off a little bit in Columbus because they have a pretty strong defence.
“His role was certainly reduced. We just saw this as an opportunity to add a quality NHL defenceman to our group.”
Now Nikitin will be given an opportunity to move back up a depth chart, this time in Edmonton.
“I see him playing in a top-four role,” Howson said. “He’ll play a little bit of power play, probably second unit. He’s got a great shot and he’ll kill penalties. He can play really anywhere in your 1-6 spots. We’ll probably use him in 1-4, or he’ll be given that opportunity initially. There’s no concern on my part but he still has to do it.”