The good, bad and the ugly columns have all been contributed too by the Columbus Blue Jackets so far in the 2011-12 season. Injuries, failure to play 60 minutes a night, an excuse book with zero room left, and just nine wins to show for. Those would be the bad and the ugly. General Manager Scott Howson has opted to continue to find ways to improve the parent club on the ice though, as opposed to finding a different voice to lead the charge. So far so good in tinkering with the 23 man roster. Welcoming forward Mark Letestu and defensemen Nikita Nikitin to town.
It was the November 10th trade though, that sent an initial shock wave through the Blue Jackets dressing room. Five years in the making, defensemen Kris Russell’s days as a member of the Columbus Blue Jackets were over. The popularity, leadership and reliability on and off the ice was departing for St. Louis in 1 for 1 player swap. Coming to Columbus, defensemen Nikita Nikitin. Drop that name to a scout, chances are likely you’ll quickly learn of the 6’3 217 lbs frame.
Great size, yes. An offensive upside from the back end, even better. Rumors were circulating in Columbus, that Nikitin would bring a heavy shot from the point and good puck moving skills to the Nationwide Arena. Would certainly bode well for a team that lacked a threat on the blue line beyond defenseman James Wisniewski and up and coming John Moore.
Exactly who Nikita Nikitin was and what the Blue Jackets were about to inject into their lineup though was unknown, until his days as a Blue Jacket officially begin.
It was in June of 2004 that the National Hockey League welcomed the Omsk, USSR native. Drafted by the St. Louis Blues in the 5th round (136th overall), Nikitin’s journey to his first NHL game was officially underway.
Having spent six seasons overseas, Nikitin would finish out in the KHL in the 2009-10 season, before arriving in St. Louis and putting on the Blues sweater. Splitting time between the parent club and the Peoria Rivermen of the AHL (Blues top minor league affiliate) in the 2010-11 season, Nikitin would accumulate 23 points in 63 games between both clubs.
Nikitin began the 2011-12 season in St. Louis, skating in seven games, failing to hit the score sheet and eventually ending up -5 in the plus/minus column. Was that enough for Blues GM Doug Armstrong to begin trade talks with Scott Howson? Apparently.
It happens. Ever so often, a player loaded with potential, needs either a change of scenery, or a new voice to be heard in order to fire up the engines. In this case, Nikitin has arrived in Columbus and has done just that. Compiling 13 points (1goal,12 assists) in 19 games played with the Blue Jackets. He is the 7th leading point getter on the club having played a dozen less games then a little less then half of the starting 23 man roster.
A bright spot for the Blue Jackets, yes. A solid addition for the future of this franchise as well.
Blue Jackets Notebook
The Blue Jackets will return to action on Monday night at 8:30pm against the Chicago Blackhawks, visiting the windy city.
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