Nikita Filatov scheduled to arrive in Columbus Wednesday to prepare for training camp

Thumbnail image for filatov.jpgIf you ask me, the Columbus Blue Jackets didn’t do a whole lot this summer to improve a team that fell well short of making the playoffs in 2009-10. You can blame a weak free agent market or a lack of cash all you want, but the bottom line is that the team doesn’t look very different.

So it seems that GM Scott Howson & Co. are hoping that a new coach (Scott Arniel) and internal improvement will get the job done. Perhaps they can increase their overall optimism in at least one player – former defector Nikita Filatov – as the Russian prospect arrived in the U.S. a few weeks before training camp to get acclimated. Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch provides the story.

Left winger Nikita Filatov has informed the Blue Jackets that he’ll arrive in Columbus on Wednesday, the Dispatch has learned, giving him roughly six weeks to get acclimated before the start of training camp.

Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson confirmed Filatov’s travel plans.

This will almost certainly delight the Blue Jackets coaches, players and executives, who sent development coach Tyler Wright to Russia last month to evaluate Filatov’s workout routine and gauge his feelings heading into the 2010-11 season.

And it confirms Filatov’s comments to the Dispatch shortly after Wright’s visit, that he would arrive the first week of August.

While he only has six goals (and somewhat oddly, zero assists) in 21 career NHL games, much is expected of the No. 6 overall pick of the 2008 NHL Entry Draft. Former head coach Ken Hitchcock’s combative, defensive-minded style rubbed Filatov the wrong way to such an extent that he left the team for CSKA Moscow in the KHL. (Filatov scored 22 points in an abbreviated 26 game stint with the team.)

It will be interesting to see what Arniel will make with what seems like an unshaped mass of clay posing as a hockey team this season. The group isn’t well-stocked with high-end offensive talent beyond face-of-the-franchise Rick Nash and notoriously fragile center Derick Brassard, so the Blue Jackets must hope against hope that Filatov can “figure it out” this summer. Arriving early and with a good attitude would be a great first step.

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    Report: Flames might have interest in Jagr

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    We’re mere weeks away from the start of training camp, but Jaromir Jagr remains unsigned. Even at the age of 45 he can still contribute as he did last season with Florida, but is there a team out there that ultimately will pay the future Hall of Famer to extend his NHL career?

    That remains to be seen, but it sounds like there is some interest out there for his services.

    “I know some teams that have kind of talked and taken a look at it,” said Elliotte Friedman on the NHL Network (H/T to FanRag Sports). “I think Calgary has been one that has kind of looked at it. One of his former coaches, Glen Gulutzan, is coaching up there.”

    Friedman also heard teams suggesting that Anaheim might be interested in Jagr, but based on his own investigation that doesn’t appear to be the case. Ultimately Jagr might end up starting the season in the Czech Republic and would have the option of playing in the Olympics if that happens, but even if he does begin the year in Europe, he could still re-sign with an NHL squad later on in the 2017-18 campaign.

    Jagr is the second all-time player in terms of total points and third in goals behind Gordie Howe and Wayne Gretzky. If he did play another season, the main statistical achievement that he could chase would be fourth place on the assists list as he’s 20 behind Ray Bourque.

    He finished the 2016-17 campaign with 16 goals and 46 points in 82 contests.

    Related: The case for Hurricanes signing Jaromir Jagr

    Under Pressure: Ryan Murray

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    This post is part of Blue Jackets Day on PHT…

    The Blue Jackets were naturally hoping for great things when they took Ryan Murray with the second overall pick in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, but he’ll turn 24-years-old in September and so far he hasn’t consistently lived up to those early expectations.

    To be sure, he’s had some bad luck along the way. He suffered a torn labrum while playing in the juniors during the 2012-13 campaign and in the years that’s followed he’s been limited at times by knee and ankle problems. Most recently he missed the last 15 games of the regular season and the Jackets’ playoff run due to a broken hand.

    Injuries haven’t been Murray’s only issue though. While they’ve resulted in setbacks along the way, when he was healthy last season he still wasn’t living up to expectations. Seth Jones, David Savard, Jack Johnson, and rookie phenom Zach Werenski served as Columbus’ defensive core while Murray was relegated to more of a supporting role.

    That top-four core isn’t particularly old either as Johnson is the most senior member at the age of 30. Johnson is on the final season of his contract, but unless the Blue Jackets can’t re-sign him, Murray has no simple path back into prominence. He’ll have to get there through merit alone and he’ll want to demonstrate his ability to do so this season given that he’ll be a restricted free agent in the summer of 2018.

    “It’s a big summer for Ryan; for him and for us,” Blue Jackets president John Davidson noted to the Columbus Dispatch in April. “He knows it. We’ve had good talks with him. He’s had good talks with our strength and conditioning people, our doctors.

    “He’s a good hockey player, and we’ve seen some good things from him. He’s had bad injury luck without question, but he’s going to overcome that. He’s at the age now where he’s not a young pup.”

    Players at his age are still typically regarded as having upside, but also beginning to transition away from the point where they’re regarded as prospects. There won’t be many more years where Murray will be looked at as a potential top defenseman if he doesn’t force himself into that role soon.

    Alfredsson left front office job with Sens to be ‘stay-at-home dad for a while’

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    Many people were surprised to see Daniel Alfredsson leave his role as senior advisor of hockey operations with the Ottawa Senators.

    The reason for his departure was unclear at the time (he walked away in July), but he finally spoke to the Ottawa Sun during a golf tournament on Monday.

    “I have a couple of projects on the go, but nothing major,” said Alfredsson, who added that he wants to be a “stay-at-home dad for a while.”

    “Once school starts, it’s full on with activities with the kids. We’re moving into a new house here in the fall, so we have a lot of planning to do with that. So, it’s going to be a quiet year for me, overall.”

    The 44-year-old, who has four boys, is moving into a new house in Ottawa, and says the family will live there for the foreseeable future.

    Despite stepping away from the NHL for now, he also admitted that he wouldn’t mind jumping back into a team’s front office if the right opportunity presented itself.

    “If that opportunity would come back again, I would look at it very hard. It’s what I know best. It’s what I love, as well. I can see that in the future at some point. But when, I don’t know.”

    Alfredsson spent all but one of his 17 seasons playing for the Sens. He put up 444 goals and 1157 points in 1246 contests with Ottawa and Detroit.

    Poll: Will the Blue Jackets get past the first round of the playoffs?

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    This post is part of Blue Jackets Day on PHT…

    The Columbus Blue Jackets have made the playoffs three times in their franchise’s history, but they’ve never been able to make it out of the first round.

    In 2009, when they were still in the Western Conference, the Blue Jackets were swept by the Detroit Red Wings. They scored one goal or less in three of four games.

    During the 2014 postseason, they were tied 2-2 in their best-of-seven series against the Penguins, but they dropped Games 5 and 6, and they were eliminated.

    Last spring, again, they went up against the Penguins. After a solid regular season, the Jackets dropped the first three games of the series before being knocked out in five.

    Despite picking up 108 points during the regular season, Columbus general manager Jarmo Kekalainen made some major changes in the off-season. They bought out Scott Hartnell, and they traded Brandon Saad, Anton Forsberg and a draft pick for Artemi Panarin, Tyler Motte and a draft pick.

    There’s no doubt that Panarin adds another dynamic to the Jackets’ attack.

    “Artemi Panarin was the best rookie in the NHL two years ago, a second team All-Star this past season and is one of the most dynamic offensive players in the NHL,” Kekalainen told the team’s website. “There is a cost to adding a player like Artemi, as well as a very good NHL prospect in Tyler Motte, but we believe this is a very good move for our team.”

    Panarin struggled to produce during the playoffs, but the entire ‘Hawks team seemed to be lacking in the scoring department. He finished the postseason with one assist and a minus-4 rating in four games.

    The previous year, he managed to score seven points in seven playoff games, but the Blackhawks were still knocked out in the first round.

    The 25-year-old will be surrounded by some other quality forwards on his new team. Brandon Dubinsky, Nick Foligno, Cam Atkinson, Boone Jenner, Josh Anderson and Alexander Wennberg are all expected to be back.

    On defense, Seth Jones, Zach Werenski, David Savard and Jack Johnson provide the Jackets with a solid top-4.

    The biggest difference-maker is between the pipes, as Sergei Bobrovsky will look to win his second consecutive Vezina Trophy. Bobrovsky was outstanding throughout 2016-17, and if he can do it all over again, his team will be better for it.

    With the Penguins and Capitals still strong options to win the division, any first-round matchup will be tough. Have the Blue Jackets done enough to make a run next spring?

    It’s your turn to have your say. Vote in our poll and feel free to leave your opinion in the comments section below.