#Oilers place Nikita Nikitin (back) on Injured Reserve.— Edmonton Oilers (@EdmontonOilers) December 8, 2014
So far the Oilers decision to sign Nikita Nikitin to a two-year deal has not worked out well. The signing itself was questioned by many, but the difference between what we expected and we've seen so far is substantial. I had my doubts that he'd be able to carry his weight in a top four role but I expected an NHL hockey player, instead we've been treated to play that would be best described as "borderline NHL" on far too many nights.
It had long been rumoured that Nikitin was playing though a back injury, still though, he could be found in the Oilers' lineup more often than not. Head coach Dallas Eakins explained this decision with talk about the value of veteran leadership and Nikitin wanting to be better. As someone who really wants the Oilers to be a playoff team I can tell you that wanting something isn't enough to make it happen. With Nikitin obviously struggling, and almost certainly dealing with an injury, it seemed logical that he be taken out of the lineup and placed on injured reserve for a while. And this morning the Oilers finally reached the same conclusion.
No word yet on a player being recalled from the Oklahoma City Barons to fill Nikitin's spot. With only six defencemen on the roster and back-to-back games coming up in San Jose and Anaheim it would make sense to place a call for another body though, just in case someone else gets injured. And who might be that man joining the team on the road? It has to be Martin Marincin, doesn't it?
Marincin's usage, or lack of, this season has puzzled most fans. Early in the season Marincin struggled to look like the player we saw in the last half of last season, but his play more recently had been much improved; his Corsi% for the season is now on the good side of 50%. Still, for whatever reason, management hasn't been willing to find a spot for him in the lineup. I don't want anybody to get hurt, but if this forces the Oilers to give Marincin another look, it would certainly be the silver lining to the injury. Maybe less so for Nikitin than the fans, but I'm a fan so that's where my concern lies.