Tag: Nikita Nikitin

Andrej Sekera

Oilers get Sekera for six years, closing in on Letestu


For all the talent they boast up front, and after acquiring Cam Talbot to try and shore up the goaltending, the Edmonton Oilers still needed to address their defense.

They started to do that today by signing veteran blue-liner Andrej Sekera to a long-term deal:

Sekera, 29, split last season between Carolina and Los Angeles. He was traded to the Kings in February, but couldn’t help the then-defending champions into the playoffs.

The Oilers’ defense will continue to change. Nikita Nikitin and Andrew Ference won’t be around much longer, while young Darnell Nurse will be brought into the fold.

Edmonton is also reportedly close to signing center Mark Letestu.

Attention agents: Coyotes are at least $18M from cap floor

2014 NHL Draft - Round 2-7

For many NHL teams, the most relevant salary cap news for 2015-16 is that the ceiling will be $71.4 million. In the case of the Arizona Coyotes, it may be a strenuous race to the floor.

The floor is set at $52.8 million, which means the Coyotes will need to spend more than $18 million to get there.

(General Fanager has their cap spending at a slightly lower level, but let’s stick with “more than $18 million” to keep things simple.)

Whatever the exact amount may be, this development generated a slew of jokes from those hoping their teams would shed unwanted salaries. Just looking at the replies to that Five for Howling tweet, here are some “friendly suggestions.”

Anyway, you get the point, but there are a few things to consider.

For one thing, the Coyotes have a ton of players they can re-sign.

Granted, some of them might not be worth retaining, like maybe Martin Erat. Still, the likes of Mikkel Boedker should eat up space, and the Coyotes may want to pay extra for a backup in case embattled starter Mike Smith isn’t a pretty good goalie after all.

On the other hand, Oliver Ekman-Larsson ranks among those who are concerned that the Coyotes’ latest off-the-ice saga may hurt their standing in the eyes of many free agents. That, along with a surplus of available draft picks, could indeed mean that Arizona GM Don Maloney may prefer to call up teams suffering from cap crunches.

Long story short: it may be silly too dream too big here, but go ahead and make your Cam Ward/Mike Richards/etc. jokes as needed. A long summer is coming, after all.

Oil change continued: Edmonton fires top scouts

2012 NHL Entry Draft - Rounds 2-7

The Edmonton Oilers have radically revamped their front office this offseason, and those changes now include a makeover for their scouting departments.

The Oilers fired head of amateur scouting (Stu MacGregor) and head of professional scouting (Morey Gare) on Saturday, according to HNIC’s Elliotte Friedman and TSN’s Bob McKenzie. McKenzie also mentions that two other amateur scouts were dismissed.

As the Edmonton Journal remarks, the timing might seem a touch unexpected since the 2015 NHL Draft takes place next week, but it otherwise makes sense.

When sports fans root for “tank jobs,” they picture a powerhouse club being built off the backs of blue chip prospects. One must not forget that top-five no-brainers need to be supplemented with gems found outside the first round (Duncan Keith went 54th overall in 2002, for example).

Read more about Edmonton’s draft failures here.

From the pro scout perspective, the Oilers have seen their fair share of free agent disasters; Nikita Nikitin’s disastrous season is merely the latest in an almost uninterrupted stream of gaffes.

Even development paths have been clunky, which could come down to wider failures. Burning the first year of Leon Draisaitl’s rookie deal looked more foolish with each passing day.

Change really does seem in the air for the Oilers now – finally – so it’s not too shocking to see a changing of the guard in Edmonton’s under-performing scouting departments.

Nikitin refutes MacTavish, says fitness ‘was never a problem’

Nikita Nikitin

Edmonton blueliner Nikita Nikitin, who hasn’t played since Jan. 29 because of a shoulder injury, has responded to comments made by Oilers GM Craig MacTavish that suggested Nikitin wasn’t in shape to start the season.

“I was in shape,” Nikitin said this week, per the Edmonton Sun. “I was in good shape. That was never a problem.”

Nikitin’s fitness level became a story following the trade deadline, when MacTavish told media the Russian rearguard didn’t come into the year in tip-top form, suggesting it might’ve played a role in what’s been a disappointing first year in Edmonton.

More, from the Sun:

“Nikita was playing better, he started off slowly, I don’t think he was in the best shape that he could have been, we have to get that rectified next year,” MacTavish said at the time. “But he was getting into shape and he’s a top-four NHL defenceman.”

The suggestion he was out of shape, made the Russian defenceman a target in Edmonton, particularly on radio call-in shows. Nikitin was lambasted on air, even though his fitness level at the beginning of the year was never in question until MacTavish made the comment.

Former head coach Dallas Eakins, who emphasized fitness, never suggested in public Nikitin’s fitness level was a concern.

In the first of a two-year, $9 million deal, Nikitin admits this season “has been frustrating for me,” noting that injuries to both his back and shoulder have kept him from fulfilling projections of him playing a top-four defensive role. What’s more, he — like many Oilers — had an immediate uptick in quality after Todd Nelson took over for Eakins as head coach; that’s only added to the frustration, as Nikitin says he only had a small window where he was playing his best hockey of the year.

“I think before the shoulder injury I was playing good,” Nikitin said. “I felt good, I was healthy.”

Oilers lose Fasth to knee injury (Updated)

Viktor Fasth

The Edmonton Oilers have been trying to at least end their disappointing 2014-15 campaign on a positive note and lately they’ve done okay in that regard with a 6-6-1 record following their loss to Tampa Bay on Jan. 15. Their task of staying competitive got even harder tonight though.

Goaltender Viktor Fasth suffered a knee injury while attempting to stop Blake Wheeler’s deciding shootout goal in Winnipeg’s 5-4 victory tonight, per the Oilers Twitter feed.

Edmonton was already missing netminder Ben Scrivens due to a hamstring injury, which means it might turn to Richard Bachman on Wednesday against Boston. Bachman, 27, has a 3.02 GAA and .901 save percentage in 36 career NHL contests. Before being called up by Edmonton, he posted a 2.30 GAA and .921 save percentage in 22 AHL games in 2014-15.

The Oilers are also missing forward Taylor Hall (leg) and defenseman Nikita Nikitin (shoulder).

Update: Edmonton might be able to start Scrivens after all on Wednesday, per Jack Michaels.