As the NHL lockout continues, the KHL has taken yet another player.
On Monday, Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Nikita Nikitin signed on to play with Avangard Omsk, as reported by the KHL’s English language Twitter account. Nikitin played for Avangard’s junior and senior teams before and after being drafted to the NHL in 2004.
Avangard, part of the Chernyshev Division in the KHL’s Eastern Conference, was founded in 1950 as Spartak Omsk and underwent quite a few name changes before settling on its present name in 1981. The team has only won two championships in its 62-year history: the Russian Superleague championship in 2004 and the IIHF European Champions Cup in 2005. The team is based in Omsk, which is located in southwestern Siberia and is also Nikitin’s hometown. Blue Jackets fans will notice that the team’s colors are red, white and black, much like the Chicago Blackhawks, and are even nicknamed the Hawks.
Nikitin, who was traded to the Blue Jackets by the St. Louis Blues in November 2011, has a career eight goals and 41 points in 102 games. This past year, he played 54 games with the Blue Jackets and recorded seven goals and 25 assists to lead the team in scoring among defensemen. In June, he signed a two-year, $4.3 million contract with the Blue Jackets.
Nikitin is the third Blue Jackets player to sign overseas since the lockout. He will play in the KHL against goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky, who signed with SKA St. Petersburg on the 21st, and forward Artem Anisimov, who signed with Lokomotiv Yaroslavl on the 20th.