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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    Bylsma: ‘We need to get more’ out of Reinhart

    EDMONTON, AB - OCTOBER 16:  Sam Reinhart #23 of the Buffalo Sabres warms up before the game against the Edmonton Oilers on October 16, 2016 at Rogers Place in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Codie McLachlan/Getty Images)
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    Sam Reinhart has two assists through four games this season, and Buffalo Sabres head coach Dan Bylsma has made a move with the hope of getting the 20-year-old forward going offensively.

    As per John Vogl of the Buffalo News on Sunday, Reinhart has been moved to the middle between Tyler Ennis and Zemgus Girgensons, while Matt Moulson was moved to the top line with Ryan O'Reilly and Kyle Okposo.

    Reinhart, a 23-goal scorer from last season, had two assists through the first two games, but has been kept off the score sheet in Buffalo’s last two contests.

    Outside of that six-goal outburst versus Edmonton last weekend, scoring has been an issue for the Sabres early in the season. So adjustments to the forward combinations is to be expected.

    “Sam needs to get a little bit more feet moving, a little bit more speed to his game,” said Bylsma, as per the Buffalo News.

    “He’s made some great plays for us early on – power play and five-on-five for the Okposo goal – but we need to get more out of Sam, moving his feet more, playing a little bit faster, a little bit quicker and providing a little bit more offense for our team.”

    The Sabres, without two key forwards in Jack Eichel and Evander Kane with long-term injuries, which would help explain the team’s early offensive issues, conclude a four-game road trip Tuesday against the Philadelphia Flyers.

    The Sabres also called up forward Hudson Fasching and defenseman Casey Nelson from Rochester in the AHL.

    P.K. Subban clearly had a blast as Titans’ 12th man

    P.K. Subban
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    When P.K. Subban shows up at your event, you expect to be entertained. And he basically always delivers.

    His trend of delighting Nashville Predators fans continued on Sunday, as he made a glorious appearance as the Tennessee Titans’ “12th Man.”

    If you close your eyes and picture a scene, you probably wouldn’t be that far off; it still doesn’t make this any less fantastic. (Even if the Titans eventually dropped a 34-26 loss to the Colts.)

    The photo he posted on his personal Twitter account was great:

    This GIF of him using a sword feels like it will get some mileage on Twitter. After totally convincing other people about your sports/political/hot-dog-being-a-sandwich opinion, and then drop the P.K. dagger:

    Was the Titans jersey not lasting for long predictable or unexpected?

    Opinion: this was the Titans game to attend since they fell a yard short of beating the Rams.

    Don’t glare: Heritage Classic start time delayed

    WINNIPEG, MANITOBA - OCTOBER 22: Cam Talbot #33 of the Edmonton Oilers skates during practice in preparation for the 2016 Tim Hortons NHL Heritage Classic alumni hockey game on October 22, 2016 at Investors Group Field in Winnipeg, Manitoba. The Oilers play the Winnipeg Jets on Oct. 23, 2016. (Photo by Jason Halstead /Getty Images)
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    Update: Puck drop is now scheduled for 4:53 p.m. ET.


    It’s not a familiar situation for the NHL, but it has happened before: a weather delay for a hockey game.

    The Winnipeg Jets confirmed that the start time for their Heritage Classic game against the Edmonton Oilers has been delayed. The glare of the sun appears to be too much.

    At the moment, it is not yet known how severe the delay will be. Puck drop was originally scheduled for just after 3 p.m. ET.

    That’s a bummer, but at least it inspired a joke that would probably make Ilya Bryzgalov smile:

    Warm-ups were moved to 4 p.m. ET. PHT will keep you posted if there are any other changes.

    Great news: Jacques Demers back at home after hospital stay

    MONTREAL- NOVEMBER 22:   Former Montreal Canadiens goalie Patrick Roy embraces his former head coach Jacques Demers during his retirement ceremony before the game against the Boston Bruins at the Bell Centre on November 22, 2008 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.  The Bruins defeated the Canadiens 3-2 in a shootout.  (Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)
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    OTTAWA, Ontario (AP) Former Montreal Canadiens coach Jacques Demers is back at home after going to a hospital Saturday.

    Demers’ Senate office would only confirm that the 72-year-old Demers, a Canadian senator, was at home Sunday, but didn’t provide any details about the reason he went to the hospital.

    Demers had suffered a stroke in April, but he was at the Canadiens’ home opener Tuesday night, smiling in a wheelchair while handing a torch to captain Max Pacioretty to close out a pregame ceremony.

    Demers led the Canadiens to their most recent Stanley Cup in 1993. He also coached the Quebec Nordiques, the Detroit Red Wings and the St. Louis Blues.

    Demers was appointed to the Senate in 2009 by then-Prime Minister Stephen Harper, but later left the Conservative caucus in December to sit as an Independent.

    At the time, he said he was uncomfortable with some of the fallout from the Senate expenses scandal and didn’t like to have to vote the Conservative party line all the time.