The Edmonton Oilers needed to upgrade their defense this offseason and if nothing else, they can at least say they threw a bunch of money at the position.
The Oilers announced on Wednesday that they acquired the free agent rights to defenseman Nikita Nikitin from the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for a fifth-round draft pick. They reportedly wasted little time in getting a contract finished, signing Nikitin to a two-year, $9 million deal according to TSN's Bob McKenzie.
That contract makes the Russian the highest-paid defenseman on the Oilers' roster and is no doubt an encouraging sign for free-agents-to-be like Matt Niskanen and Anton Stralman. If Nikitin is worth $4.5 million per year, they must be salivating at what they are going to be able to get.
Nikitin, 28, spent the last three seasons in Columbus and is coming off a 2013-14 campaign that saw him score two goals to go with 13 assists while playing in a third-pairing role.
The Oilers were were one of the worst defensive teams in the NHL last season, allowing a league-worst 3.26 goals per game and nearly 33 shots per game.