The Blue Jackets' off-season continued today, as they announced the re-signing of restricted free agent defenseman Nikita Nikitin for two years and $4.3 million. This allows them to avoid arbitration with the Russian defenseman.
Nikitin came to the Jackets from St. Louis in a trade for Kris Russell during this past season, and had by far the best stretch of hockey in his career playing mostly with countryman Fedor Tyutin. Nikitin had seven goals and 25 assists in 54 games with Columbus after the trade. The 26-year-old Nikitin solidifies the Jackets' blue line corps going into the 2012-2013 season.
In 48 career games prior to the trade, he had just one goal and eight assists. His offense became a pleasant surprise for Columbus. Even more than that, his scoring was timely, as three of his seven goals were game-winners.
Considered a big-body, stay-at-home type, Nikitin's flash of offense was definitely a bonus for Columbus as an otherwise horrible season wore on.
Nikitin will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of this contract.