Columbus Blue Jackets hope to bring back Nikita Filatov

filatov.jpgThere are a few common threads hanging around this free agent summer. It’s been a bad July for goalies, at least the big-ticket guys, as players such as Dan Ellis and Chris Mason provided cheap alternatives for teams who balked at the asking price of Marty Turco and Evgeni Nabokov. From my viewpoint, it’s been a fairly lucrative month for solid-but-unspectacular defensemen as Paul Martin and Dan Hamhuis received healthy paydays.

It also seems like this might be The Summer of Dynamic-Yet-Flawed Russians. Obviously, we’ve covered Ilya Kovalchuk to the point of exhaustion (and will continue to do so) since last Thursday. It doesn’t stop there, though, as Nikolai Zherdev makes headlines while people also wonder what exactly is going on with another flighty rightie, Alex Frolov.

One other wayward young Russian is Nikita Filatov. Like Zherdev, the right-handed winger boasts bushels of offensive talent but bristled under the stern eye of former Columbus Blue Jackets coach Ken Hitchcock. He managed two goals and 0 assists* in 13 troubling games before the team allowed him to flee to CSKA Moscow in the KHL for the remainder of the 2009-10 season. (Filatov had a solid end there, scoring nine goals, 13 assists for 22 points in 26 games in the KHL.)

* I find it a bit odd that Filatov has six goals and zero assists in his NHL career. Expect that to be fodder for people who love obscure statistics.

The Columbus Dispatch reports that the Blue Jackets sent their development coach Tyler Wright to Moscow so he could work with the promising but sensitive forward. GM Scott Howson says that they expect to have Filatov in training camp while new coach Scott Arniel will allow the 20-year-old to have a “clean slate.”

“From everything we know,” Howson said, “he’s excited about coming.”

Coach Scott Arniel has promised a clean slate with Filatov, but it remains to be seen where he might fit in the lineup.

The top six – centers Antoine Vermette and Derick Brassard, and wingers Rick Nash, Jake Voracek, Kristian Huselius and R.J. Umberger – would appear fairly settled two months away from camp, although Umberger opened on the third line last season to fit Filatov on the No.2 line.

Filatov has told the Blue Jackets that he has bulked up to 185 pounds, with the hope of being close to 190 when camp breaks.

“Nikita has the skill and the ability to play in a top-six role,” Howson said. “It’s going to be up to him to show it. NHL teams always make room for top-six players.”

Something tells me that the talent-poor Blue Jackets will do everything in their power to make things work with Filatov next season … but the young forward should try to meet them half-way.

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    Leafs and Coyotes headline Craig Button’s list of top NHL-affiliated prospects

    TORONTO, ON - JANUARY 2:  William Nylander #21 of Team Sweden is stopped by Ville Husso #30 of Team Finland during a quarter-final game in the 2015 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship at the Air Canada Centre on January 2, 2015 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)
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    Maple Leafs and Coyotes featured prominently on Craig Button’s list of the top 50 NHL-affiliated prospects.

    Button, the former Calgary GM whose current title is TSN’s Director of Scouting, has two Leafs forwards — William Nylander (1st) and Mitch Marner (6th) — and two Coyotes forwards — Dylan Strome (2nd) and Christian Dvorak (3rd) — in his top six.

    Flyers defensive prospect Ivan Provorov is fourth, with Jets forward Kyle Connor fifth.

    Click here to read the other 44 youngsters that made the cut.

    One of them is Jimmy Vesey (8th), the Harvard scoring sensation the Predators need to sign by August, otherwise he can become a free agent.

    Goalie nods: Ducks give red-hot Andersen second straight start

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    Bruce Boudreau has one of those “problems you like to have” in Anaheim.

    Much of his club’s recent surge is due to excellent play from both netminders — John Gibson and Frederik Andersen — but after alternating starts for the last five games, Boudreau will give Andersen his second straight nod when the Ducks take on the Jackets in Columbus.

    The Danish netminder is full value for consecutive starts. Andersen made 28 saves and allowed just one goal in a win over Philadelphia last time out and has been on fire over his last six games, going a perfect 6-0-0 with a 1.67 GAA and .941 save percentage.

    “We just wanted to change the rotation a little bit,” Boudreau said of tonight’s starting goalie choice, per the O.C. Register. “Gibby’s done really good against Chicago and Vancouver and Freddie’s done really good against Edmonton, Calgary. He played an outstanding game last game and I thought he deserved this game tonight.”

    Anaheim is in the midst of a lengthy seven-game road swing. After tonight’s game, the Ducks take on the ‘Hawks, Oilers and Flames before wrapping the trip in Vancouver on Feb. 18.

    For Columbus, Joonas Korpisalo starts in goal.

    Elsewhere…

    — Looks as though Jhonas Enroth gets the nod in Brooklyn with Jonathan Quick banged up. The Isles are going with Thomas Greiss, who has emerged as one of the NHL’s top backup netminders this year.

    Robin Lehner goes for the Sabres in Philly tonight. Steve Mason will make his sixth straight start, and Michal Neuvirth will resume backup duties after being activated from IR.

    Semyon Varlamov‘s expected to be in goal for the Avs tonight when they take on the Sens. Ottawa will go with Andrew Hammond after Craig Anderson started against Detroit last night.

    — Minnesota is going back to Devan Dubnyk, tonight, who has lost nine in a row (0-8-1) with a 3.32 GAA and .881 save percentage over that time. Washington will start Braden Holtby.

    Tuukka Rask versus Connor Hellebuyck as the Bruins take on the Jets.

    — Dallas looks like it’ll go back to Kari Lehtonen after his strong effort in Tuesday’s win over the Wild. Chicago, unsurprisingly, is sticking with its workhorse No. 1, Corey Crawford.

    — Toronto’s switching things up and going with Jonathan Bernier as its road swing continues in Edmonton. The Oilers are going with Cam Talbot, one day after sending Anders Nilsson to the minors.

    Karri Ramo versus Alex Stalock tonight in San Jose.

    Subban out of hospital and ‘doing well’ after surgery to repair fractured larynx

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    The Boston Bruins have provided another update on goalie Malcolm Subban, who suffered a fractured larynx Saturday when he was struck in the throat with a puck during an AHL game in Portland:

    “Malcolm underwent successful surgery on February 8 at Mass Eye & Ear Hospital in Boston to repair his larynx fracture. He is doing well and has been released from the hospital. While there is no definitive timetable for his return at this time, he is expected to be out a minimum of eight weeks.”

    Subban, 22, was the 24th overall pick in the 2012 draft.

    Related: Malcolm Subban feels he’s ‘taken a huge step forward’ from last year

    ‘No Spurgeon tonight’ for desperate Wild

    ST PAUL, MN - MAY 9: Jared Spurgeon #46 of the Minnesota Wild celebrates scoring a goal against the Chicago Blackhawks during the third period in Game Four of the Second Round of the 2014 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs on May 9, 2014 at Xcel Energy Center in St Paul, Minnesota. The Wild defeated the Blackhawks 4-2. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
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    Desperate for a win and hosting the NHL-leading Washington Capitals, the Minnesota Wild be without defenseman Jared Spurgeon for a second straight game.

    “No Spurgeon tonight,” Wild coach Mike Yeo said this morning. “He’s not ready.”

    Spurgeon has already missed one game, Tuesday’s 4-3 OT loss to Dallas. He suffered a “deep bruise” Saturday in St. Louis, and his status for this Saturday’s game against Boston is uncertain.

    The Wild are also missing d-man Jonas Brodin, currently on injured reserve with a broken foot.

    That’s two significant injuries on the back end, as Spurgeon and Brodin each average over 20 minutes in ice time.

    In a related story, Ryan Suter played a season-high 33:15 against the Stars, while AHL call-up Mike Reilly was out there for just 12:27.

    Related: Yeo was ‘disappointed’ to see Hoppy the rabbit holding a ‘YEO MUST GO’ sign