Last season, NIkitin made the jump from the KHL in Russia to North America, and split the year with the Blues and their AHL affiliate in Peoria. He put up 1-8-9 in 41 games at the NHL level last year, with 3-11-14 in 22 games in the AHL.
Both players fit the bill as puck-moving defensemen. Nikitin is an RFA at season's end, so there's more flexibility from a Columbus perspective.
Nikitin brings size to the Columbus blueline, checking in at 6-3, 220. First round pick John Moore has played well since joining the team, making Russell redundant on the roster.