COLUMBUS DISPATCH: reports the Blue Jackets have dealt defenseman Kris Russell to the St. Louis Blues in exchange for blueliner Nikita Nikitin. The league confirmed the trade, although Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson said no trades were official.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This is essentially two struggling teams swapping two struggling defensemen and hoping for the best. The Blue Jackets obviously ran out of patience waiting for Russell to play up to the potential they envisioned for him as a puck-moving defenseman. It’ll be interesting to see how well he plays under head coach Ken Hitchcock, who coached him early in his career with the Blue Jackets.
Nikitin apparently has potential as a power-play specialist, as the Dispatch suggests he struggles at even strength. He’s bigger than Russell and if he uses that size (6-3, 215) to good use, could perhaps become more effective in a physical role. One also has to wonder if more deals are in the works for the floundering Jackets, who earlier this week acquired center Mark Letestu from the Pittsburgh Penguins in exchange for a draft pick.