By: Adam Gretz
After losing for the 13th time in 15 games to start the season on Wednesday night, the Columbus Blue Jackets made their second trade in the past three days by sending defenseman Kris Russell to the St. Louis Blues in exchange for Nikita Nikitin. TSN's Bob McKenzie was first to report the trade.
Russell, who did not play during the Jackets' 6-3 loss to Chicago, was a third-round pick back in 2005 and has appeared in 12 games this season, scoring two goals to go with one assist. The obvious connection here is that Russell spent time playing for new Blues head coach Ken Hitchcock during his time in Columbus between 2007 and 2009, a stretch that saw Russll play some of the most productive hockey of his career.
When the rumor mill started to buzz on Thursday night about a potential Columbus trade, the obvious speculation was centered around whether or not any deal would involve a goaltender given the struggles of Steve Mason, who surrendered six goals on 36 shots against Chicago. That isn't going to help his .869 save percentage for the season.
Not only did Columbus not acquire a goaltender -- at least not yet -- it simply swapped defenseman, and arguably downgraded.
In exchange, the Blue Jackets receive Nikitin, a fourth-round pick by the Blues in 2004. He's appeared 48 games in his brief NHL career, scoring one goal to go with eight assists. He's appeared in seven games this season and recorded no points.
Perhaps the biggest (and only) advantage in this deal for Columbus is the salary cap savings it will get by moving Russell, who is signed through next season and carries a cap hit of $1.3 million. Nikitin counts $600,000 against the cap.
For Columbus, this move comes just a couple of days after it acquired Mark Letestu from Pittsburgh in exchange for a 2012 fourth-round pick.