One of Columbus’ few bright sports from last season will be around for the forseeable future.
According to Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch, the Blue Jackets have agreed to terms with RFA defenseman Nikita Nikitin — a two-year deal worth $4.3 million.
The deal will pay $1.8 million this year, $2.5 the next and will take Nikitin one year beyond UFA status.
Acquired from St. Louis in exchange for Kris Russell last November, Nikitin was a solid contributor on the Columbus blueline last season. He led all defensemen in scoring (7G-25A-32PTS) despite playing just 54 games and averaged over 23 minutes a night.
He also finished minus-5, no small feat when you log tons of minutes on a lousy team. Just ask Fedor Tuytin (minus-21), Derick Brassard (minus-20) and Rick Nash (minus-19).
The deal represents a healthy raise for the 26-year-old Russian, who played last season on a one-year, $600,00 deal.
With a quote that’s sure to raise the ire of the stats crowd, here’s Jonathan Quick on his .833 save percentage to start the season:
“That’s for people that don’t know the game. Those numbers don’t mean nothing. We’re 0-2, though. That number means something, so that’s something that we’ve got to get better at.”
(That quote, per LA Kings Insider.)
Quick allowed four goals on 22 shots in his last outing, a 4-1 loss to Arizona on Friday, after which head coach Darryl Sutter said of his star goalie: “He didn’t play very well tonight, did he?”
So even if Quick doesn’t think much of statistics, he should still be extra motivated for tonight’s home game against Vancouver, assuming he gets the start.
Last season, Quick’s .918 save percentage ranked in a three-way tie for 14th out of the 29 goalies who started 40 or more games.
After making the Wild out of training camp, Tyler Graovac got some bad news on Tuesday — head coach Mike Yeo said Graovac would miss the next 2-3 weeks with a groin strain.
Graovac, 22, played just under 14 minutes in Minnesota’s crazy 5-4 comeback win over Colorado in the season-opener, but sat out Saturday’s win over St. Louis.
At 6-foot-5 and 200 pounds, Graovac was a notable physical presence in the Wild lineup, and is an intriguing prospect — he impressed with AHL Iowa last year, scoring 21 goals and 46 points in 73 games.