The Oilers signed defenceman Nikita Nikitin this morning to a 2yr contract at 4.5M per year. The dollars are a tad high for a guy who played 3rd pairing minutes last year in Columbus but the Oilers had to pay for that short term. I’m sure Nikitin was probably looking for a 4-6 year term in the 3.5M to 4M range but the Oilers were looking to add a bridge player to give Nurse 2 more seasons to develop before making the jump to the NHL.
Nikitin looks like a good candidate to play along side Justin Shultz which should make a solid 2nd pairing playing some sheltered minutes. He’s a real NHL defenceman with experience who has shown success in the past playing against tough competition and he’s only 28yrs old. He really does fill a hole on the team and will push Nurse back to Jr this year.
A pretty big overpayment at 4.5M per season and even though the Oilers do have the cap room to sign the deal I worry about how this contract will affect the negotiations with Petry and Shultz or another UFA defenceman (Stralman).
On the bright side Nikitin should slot in on the 2nd pairing and only makes $900k more than the Oilers were paying Nick Shultz last season.