The Edmonton Oilers acquired the rights to defenceman Nikita Nikitin from the Columbus Blue Jackets. The acquisition gives them a “quality NHL defenceman” in the words of Oilers Sr. Vice President of Hockey Operations Scott Howson.
Howson told Oilers Colour Analyst Bob Stauffer on Wednesday that the team won’t stop with Nikitin. They want to help bridge the gap as the Oilers have several very talented youngsters on the blue line that could use some more time to develop. Now that Nikitin is in the mix, Howson says the team will look to add one more.
“We figured we had four legitimate NHL defencemen going into camp in Andrew Ference, Justin Schultz, Jeff Petry and Martin Marincin,” Howson said. “Martin still has a little bit to prove because he only did it for half a season and we’ve seen lots of players have initial success and take a fall back. There’s no doubt he’s going to be an NHL player, whether he’s ready to continue what he accomplished last year remains to be seen and we’ll see that in camp. We’re going to try to get another NHL defenceman. Nikita gives us five, if you include Marincin, and we’ll try to get another one, that’s six. Then if the kids are ready, that’s the great thing about the NHL. If a young player is ready to play and he shows he is ready to play then teams make room for him. That’s just the way the league works.”
As for what the Oilers are looking for in their next addition, Howson says they’re looking at all of the options.
“I think we’re open to anything. We want a good player and Nikita is a good player. We’re targeting three or four other good players. Some are more defensive oriented, some are sort of all around guys so there is no specific criteria they have to meet, we just want a good NHL player.”