Columbus inks Nikitin for two years, $4.3 million

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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.