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.”
- Oilers TV Panel talks about the trade and this week's draft
- Bob Stauffer interviews Howson on Oilers Now
The Edmonton Oilers have acquired the rights to defenceman Nikita Nikitin from the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for a 5th round selection in the 2014 NHL Draft.
Nikitin, 28, has spent four seasons in the NHL with the St. Louis Blues and Columbus Blue Jackets. His best point production came in the 2011-12 season, when he posted 32 (7-25-32) in 54 games with Columbus after being acquired in a trade from St. Louis.
His is a 6-foot-4, 223 pounder from Omsk, Russia and was the 136th overall pick in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft.
Former Oilers Assistant Coach Steve Smith has agreed to terms with the Carolina Hurricanes to join the organization in the same capacity. Smith had served as assistant coach for the Oilers for the past four seasons.
He joins former Oilers Assistant General Manager Ricky Olczyk, who was hired by the Canes this month.
41 players have been invited to Canada’s national junior team summer development camp and two Oilers prospects are among the chosen ones. The two are Darnell Nurse, the seventh overall pick last year, and forward Greg Chase (7th round, 188th overall last year).
Nurse is coming off a season with his best point production as the defenceman scored 50 (13-37-50) in 64 games with Sault Ste. Marie in the OHL. Nurse made his pro hockey debut with the Oklahoma City Barons at the end of the regular season.
Chase posted 85 points (35-50-85) with the Calgary Hitmen in the WHL this season. He too joined Nurse with the Barons and scored a goal in his first professional game.
Nurse had 50pts in 64GP w/ Sault Ste. Marie (OHL) while Chase had 85pts in 70GP w/ Calgary (WHL) this past season. pic.twitter.com/PmZQvanqxo— Edmonton Oilers (@EdmontonOilers) June 23, 2014
Some top NHL Draft prospects are on the camp roster as well. The expected number one overall pick Aaron Ekblad is joined by fellow top defencemen Haydn Fleury, Roland McKeown and Travis Sanheim.
Sam Bennett, Sam Reinhart, Michael Dal Colle, Robby Fabbri, Brendan Perlini, Brayden Point, Nick Ritchie and Jake Virtanen round out the list of forwards who made the camp roster who are potential first round picks this year.
Edmonton Oil Kings forward Curtis Lazar is also invited to the camp.
Edmonton Oilers General Manager Craig MacTavish spoke with Oilers Colour Analyst Bob Stauffer on Oilers Now this afternoon and discussed what he sees are some of the team’s needs heading into the off-season.
MacTavish says he could see the team adding four or five new additions for next season.
“I’ve talked a bit about a puck-moving defenceman, they’re very difficult to find,” MacTavish said. “Certainly, there are a few available at various levels. We need that, in our organization’s estimation. I think that we could use a guy that’s a real, solid shut-down defender that has that bite. I know we have some guys who really fit that bill on the horizon but we don’t want to be forced to bring our young defencemen into a situation that they’re currently not capable of handling and excelling in. We’ve talked about that a lot, giving the players time to mature and develop physically and mentally so that when they do step into the NHL they’re ready to have success. We need some experience up front. We need some guys that can help round out our top three lines and that’s what we’re basically looking to do.”
“I think that’s the model that we’re ultimately trying to piece together where we have a fourth line that would have lots of defensive zone starts and be able to play against anybody and then have three lines that are able to have success offensively.”
Edmonton Oilers General Manager Craig MacTavish was on Oilers Now this afternoon to discuss the upcoming draft, free agency and the state of the team. MacTavish commented on the Oilers recent hiring of long-time NHL coach Craig Ramsay as Assistant Coach.
“He’s a guy that I really think that’s going to add an element to our coaching staff,” MacTavish told Bob Stauffer. “He’s going to bring a new perspective. In my discussions with Craig, he’s a very cerebral guy about the game. He’s got a wealth of experience. He’s put a lot of thought in the game and how it should be played. He’s got a good balance on teaching the game, how much the players are capable of taking in and comprehending at one time and what’s realistic, how you present the information to the players, a good balance of enjoying yourself in the dressing room and the intense pressures that the players have today, especially in our market.
“I think he’s going to lend a real fresh perspective there. He’s a guy who Dallas is going to charge with helping out our power play and I think that’s going to help. He’s got a ton of experience and we welcome that perspective that he’s going to bring and I think he’s going to have a significant impact. Having said that, we need to do a good job of bringing in some personnel that has the ability to have much greater success.”
The Edmonton Oilers will be looking to add some pieces to supplement their youthful core this season. Oilers General Manager Craig MacTavish will be the director behind all of those moves and was on Oilers Now with Bob Stauffer this afternoon to discuss those topics.
Looking ahead to potential trades, the Oilers may be more willing to take on salary to off-set some of the assets they would have to part with to add a player. He said, “that’s a scenario I think has some attractiveness to us.”
MacTavish also says that in addition to trades the Oilers will be involved in the free agency market. Although you don’t want to rely on free agency, there are some players available who could help fill holes in the lineup.
“The UFA market is a fickle market. Statistically 80% of the transactions in the UFA market are poor transactions. But it’s a good way to augment your lineup if we can add the right pieces. We’re really in a position where we’re looking for secondary pieces and we’re pretty comfortable with our primary pieces up front. We’re looking to add support to our primary pieces that are currently in place.”
Don’t expect the Oilers just to be comfortable with the middle-tier free agents. They will make calls on the top guys as well, even just to do their homework.
“We’ll be chasing some of the higher end guys too. To what extent remains to be seen but we’ll be in those discussions.”
The Edmonton Oilers have agreed to terms with forward Iiro Pakarinen to a two-year entry level contract.
Pakarinen, 22, was drafted by the Florida Panthers in the seventh round, 184th overall, in 2011. He had his best season of his career this year, scoring 20 goals and adding 10 assists in 60 games with HIFK Helsinki.
He is a 6-foot-1, 194-pound winger who also represented Finland at the 2014 World Hockey Championship. He played for Finland twice at the World Junior Championships (2010 & 2011).
The addition of Bob Nicholson to the Oilers Entertainment Group’s executive core brings with it a fresh look and new ideas to the business side of things.
“I think the first thing is that I have a fresh look,” Nicholson said. “There’s a lot of things that have gone very well in this organization. I’m not coming in here to rip things apart. I’m going to come in, observe and tinker with things to try to make them better. I really want to make sure we connect all of the departments and everything together and if you’ve got a real strong foundation… then that vision becomes a lot easier to achieve.”
In his first few months on the job, Nicholson will be looking to get a feel for the organization as he looks to build on the new sports and entertainment company’s vision.
“My first few months will be looking at the overall organization and hopefully be given ideas of communications, how the departments work and how we tie in business today and future business all together.”
Nicholson’s ‘fresh look’ was highly coveted. President and COO of OEG Patrick LaForge says, “he’s the best free agent in the business.”
Long-time Hockey Canada President and CEO Bob Nicholson was announced as Vice-Chairman of the Oilers Entertainment Group on Friday.
Nicholson has a hearty resume in the hockey world and a 14-year relationship with Edmonton Oilers President of Hockey Operations Kevin Lowe, who will also serve as Vice Chairman of OEG.
Lowe answered a question at the press conference pertaining to Nicholson’s role with hockey decisions. Lowe said he has great respect and a great relationship with Nicholson and that the new addition to the executive team is “As passionate in fixing the Oilers as we are.”
The team will be welcoming Nicholson’s input and help in decision making in that department.
Lowe says Nicholson sat in on the Oilers pro scout meetings and he, “will be as involved as much as we can get him and I know that will be a massive addition to our organization.”