POSTED ON Thursday, 06.28.2012 / 2:10 PM
By Rob Mixer - BlueJackets.com / CBJ Today

The Blue Jackets knew they were getting a solid player when they acquired Nikita Nikitin from the St. Louis Blues, but it’s safe to say the defenseman blew expectations out of the water.

He battled through a tough situation in St. Louis, and came to Columbus with a fresh outlook – and it paid off. Nikitin, 25, earned heavy minutes from both Scott Arniel and Todd Richards during the 54 games he played for the Blue Jackets in 2011-12, and quickly became a permanent fixture on a strengthened blue line.

Nikitin officially signed a two-year, $4.3 million contract extension with the Blue Jackets this afternoon, keeping him in the union blue sweater through the 2013-14 season. He was scheduled to become a restricted free agent (RFA) later this week, but GM Scott Howson and Nikitin’s camp both had an interest in agreeing to new deal as soon as possible.

The new deal will buy one year of Nikitin's unrestricted free agency years. Per the terms of the agreement, he will earn $1.8 million next season and $2.5 million in 2013-14.


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POSTED ON Wednesday, 06.27.2012 / 2:50 PM
By Rob Mixer - BlueJackets.com / CBJ Today

When the NHL Draft concluded last weekend, we spoke with Scott Howson and he indicated both drafted goaltenders could play junior hockey in Canada this upcoming season.

The first step in that process came today with the CHL Import Draft, and it was nothing but good news for both Oscar Dansk and Joonas Korpisalo. The top-ranked Swedish (Dansk) and Finnish (Korpisalo) netminders in the 2012 draft class were both selected in the top five of the import draft, a strong indication that they could each have starting jobs as early as this season.

Dansk was taken third overall by the Erie Otters (OHL), a club that struggled mightily last year (10-52-6) and could use some help between the pipes. The big, athletic goaltender will get playing time, and could play a large role in getting the Otters back to respectability in the Midwest division.

If Korpisalo decides to play junior hockey, he will start his career in the WHL with the Prince George Cougars. The 18-year-old Finn is regarded as one of the quickest and most athletic goalies in the draft, and if he gets a chance to crack the lineup for the Cougars, we could be hearing his name a lot as the season progresses.

I talked to Blue Jackets goaltending coach Ian Clark about both of these goaltenders, who will be in Columbus for development camp beginning July 3.


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POSTED ON Wednesday, 06.27.2012 / 10:10 AM
By Rob Mixer - BlueJackets.com / CBJ Today

Before we get this blog started, can we take a moment to marvel at that absolutely awesome pass by Nikita Nikitin? Easily one of my top Blue Jackets plays of the second half of the year. Catches the Red Wings defense napping in the neutral zone, stretches the ice, and Derick Brassard is on the business end to cash it behind Ty Conklin. Brilliant stuff.

Oops, sorry. This guy is having a hard time coping with the offseason. How many days until training camp? Holy dog days, man.

Anyway, what we're looking at today are the Blue Jackets' restricted free agents. The dawn of UFA Day is less than a week away and it's time to get geared up for one of the more fast-paced days in the National Hockey League. How much activity will there be? It's always hard to tell, but we anticipate a busy week (or more) on the Blue Jackets front.


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POSTED ON Tuesday, 06.26.2012 / 2:54 PM
By Rob Mixer - BlueJackets.com / CBJ Today

Feeling "replaced" is never easy for any player (let alone a goaltender) and Blue Jackets goaltending coach Ian Clark could see it in Sergei Bobrovsky.

Fresh off a stellar campaign with the Philadelphia Flyers in 2010-11, Flyers GM Paul Holmgren instigated a complete organizational makeover. First, team captain Mike Richards and scoring center Jeff Carter were sent packing in exchange for prospects and draft picks.

Holgmren used the spare salary cap space to sign free agent Ilya Bryzgalov to a nine-year contract, sending Bobrovsky down a rung on the organizational ladder. He had just won 28 games for the Flyers and posted a 2.59 goals-against average, but instead, would be relegated to backup goaltender duty.

Bobrovsky soldiered on and waited for his opportunity. This past weekend, he got it -- coming to the Blue Jackets in a trade that sent draft picks to the Flyers. One man who is extremely excited to have "Bob" in the organization is goaltending coach Ian Clark, who has watched Bobrovsky's game closely over the past few years and knows exactly what he's getting: a confident, hard-working kid who wants a chance to assert himself in the National Hockey League.


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