The Edmonton Oilers traded for the rights to a free agent defenceman, and got him signed to a two-year deal, paying a premium for a shorter term contract. Numbers Game looks at the Oilers inking Nikita Nikitin. The Oilers Get: D Nikita Nikitin. Nikitin, 28, played a career-high 66 games last season, an indication that hes still trying to establish his place in the league. A couple of years ago, in 2011-2012, Nikitin contributed a career-best 32 points in 54 games for Columbus (after seven scoreless games with St. Louis to start the year), playing a career-high 23:12 per game for the season putting up strong relative possession numbers while facing high-quality opposition, while frequently paired with veteran Fedor Tyutin. Thats the Nikitin that the Oilers have to hope they are acquiring. In 2012-2013, Nikitins role was decreased somewhat, and while he still logged 21:12 per game, Nikitin was then surpassed on the depth chart last season by rookie Ryan Murray, leaving Nikitin to play 17:07 per game on the third pair. Playing on that third pair didnt bring ideal results, as Nikitin was a little below break-even in possession terms, but if there is reason to hold out hope for Nikitin, it may be that his with-or-without you numbers arent bad over the past three seasons. Among the 16 skaters with whom he played at least 300 5-on-5 minutes over those three seasons, Nikitin had better possession numbers apart than 11 of those skaters, but that relative effectiveness has decreased in the past two seasons, to the point that in 2013-2014, Nikitin had better possession stats apart from just three of the 13 skaters with whom he played more than 150 5-on-5 minutes. What this would seem to indicate is that Nikitin, who has good size, can skate and handle the puck a bit, isnt necessarily one to carry the play. He could be a useful complementary player and presumably Oilers Senior VP of Hockey Operations Scott Howson (who acquired Nikitin as GM in Columbus) is a fan, but there is risk in bringing in a player with falling possession numbers to a team that already ranked 28th in Fenwick Close (unblocked shot attempts during 5-on-5, score within one goal in first two periods and tied in third period). Its not as though Nikitins play in the past couple seasons indicates that he would improve the results no matter with whom he is partnered and its reasonable to wonder if the Oilers have the right personnel to get positive results with Nikitin on the ice. If the Jeff Petry and Martin Marincin pairing goes ahead, then perhaps Nikitin gets a chance alongside Andrew Ference. Maybe that somehow works out and allows the Oilers some time to develop their young defencemen. Its entirely possible that it wont work out, though, and the short-term nature of the contract suggests that both sides recognize that risk. Signed to a two-year, $9-million deal, Nikitin will be well-compensated, particularly if he cant stick in the Oilers top four, but the downside of a two-year deal is limited compared to the longer term that will be available to other free agent defencemen. The Blue Jackets Get: A fifth-round pick. Since the Blue Jackets werent going to bring Nikitin back, getting any asset in return is a plus. The fifth-round pick, 137th overall, belonged to Columbus originally and was traded to Edmonton last season to acquire D Nick Schultz. A fifth-round pick doesnt bring a lot of value, but its something. From 1990 through 2009, just under 15% of the picks between 121 and 150 played at least 100 NHL games, so there is a little better than a one-in-seven chance of netting an NHL player. While its reasonable for the Oilers to have hope Nikitin can perform in a top-four role, it could be telling that the Blue Jackets would let Nikitin depart as a free agent. Mabye they simply didnt want to pay that kind of money to a third pair defenceman, when they have younger, cheaper options (David Savard, Dalton Prout, Tim Erixon) available and thats fair, but current Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen was the Blues Director of Scouting when St. Louis picked Nikitin in the fifth round in 2004. Lots can change over time and the Blue Jackets arent likely to regret letting Nikitin go, even if he works out well for the Oilers. Scott Cullen can be reached at Scott.Cullen@bellmedia.ca
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. Sharper briefly appeared in Los Angeles Superior Court, where his arraignment was postponed until Feb. 20 at the request of his lawyers. They issued a statement saying he would be exonerated. Prosecutors then filed a motion to increase Sharpers bail to $10 million and outlined details of investigations involving him in Las Vegas, Tempe, Ariz. . - Jacksonville Jaguars defensive end Jason Babin is now a free agent. . About seven hours before facing Washington in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference second round series, team officials said the oft-injured Bynum would miss the rest of the playoffs and would not even be with the team for the rest of the post-season.OMAHA, Neb. -- Terence "Bud" Crawford stopped Yuriorkis Gamboa in the ninth round Saturday night to successfully defend his WBO lightweight belt in a match of unbeatens. Crawford wobbled Gamboa with a left and knocked him down with another left earlier in the ninth, then connected with a right to the chin at the 2:53 mark, prompting referee Gino Rodriguez to call the fight. As Rodriguez waved his arms, Crawford ran to a neutral corner and jumped on the shoulders of co-manager Brian McIntyre. "I hurt him plenty of times," Crawford said, "so when I hurt him the last time, I was looking to finish." The 26-year-old Crawford (24-0, 17 knockouts) was fighting in his hometown for the first time as a professional, and more than 10,000 showed up at the CenturyLink Center, many of them chanting "Craw-ford! Craw-ford!" throughout. "I imagined everybody screaming, supporting me," Crawford said. "It was everything I thought it was going to be." It was his first title defence since his 12-round unanimous decision over Ricky Burns in Glasgow, Scotland, in March. He said he plans to move up to junior welterweight after this fight. The 32-year-old Cuban-born Gamboa (23-1, 16 knockouts), a 2004 Olympic champion, was fighting for the first time in a year. Crawford took control in the middle rounds. In the fifth, Crawford knocked down Gamboa with a left to the side of his head. Crawford staggered him just before the bell with a flurry of shots, bringging the crowd to its feet.dddddddddddd The 5-foot-5 Gamboa, with a 5-inch reach disadvantage, had trouble working inside against Crawford. When Crawford moved in, Gamboa used his superior speed to duck under him. Crawford landed a right to Gamboas cheek in the second round. As the fighters went into a clinch, Gamboa put a couple quick rights to the back of Crawfords head, drawing a warning from the referee. Gamboa landed a couple stinging shots in the third, but that he never was able to hurt Crawford. "He caught me with a good shot in the ninth, at the beginning," Crawford said. "It got my attention and buzzed me a little." Omaha hadnt been site for a world championship fight since 1972, when Joe Frazier successfully defended his heavyweight title against Ron Stander, who was in the crowd Saturday night. In the co-main event, WBO No. 1-ranked middleweight Matt Korobov remained unbeaten with a unanimous decision over Jose Uzcatequi for that organizations intercontinental title. Korobov (24-0) landed a hard left to the previously unbeaten Uzcatequis nose in the first round, knocked him down twice in the fifth and put him on his knees with a body blow in the ninth. The 23-year-old Uzcatequi (22-1), who had stopped his previous five opponents, was in his first professional fight outside Mexico. In another fight, unbeaten Canadian Mikael Zewski stopped Prince Doku Jr. of Ghana in the third round of a scheduled 10-round bout for the NABF welterweight title. ' ' '