Nikitin’s availability for rest of season in question

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The Edmonton Oilers acquired Nikita Nikitin over the summer in an effort to bolster the team’s defense during a period of cautious optimism. That optimism, at least as far as this season is concerned, has long since evaporated and while Edmonton has been somewhat better lately, the Oilers will face challenges in their attempts to avoid limping to the finish line.

Nikita Nikitin will miss a significant amount of time due to a shoulder injury. A more specific timetable hasn’t been provided, but given that we’re at the end of January, questions are being raised as to whether the 28-year-old defenseman will play again this season, per the Edmonton Journal.

His absence might be just be an early chapter in the depletion of the Oilers as they’ve settled into a seller role as we approach the trade deadline. Edmonton already got an early start by trading David Perron to Pittsburgh for Rob Klinkhammer and a 2015 first-round pick. Defenseman Jeff Petry might also be dealt in the coming weeks and there’s always the possibility that the Oilers will make a bolder move.

The Oilers have a 13-27-9 record, which still puts them four points ahead of the plummeting Buffalo Sabres. Edmonton will play eight of its next nine games on the road, starting with tonight’s contest against Calgary.

Keith Aulie will take Nikitin’s place alongside Mark Fayne.