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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    Video: Mika Zibanejad’s check to Tyler Bozak’s head

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    Saturday’s been unkind to the Toronto Maple Leafs, and not just on the scoreboard (where it’s 3-0 early on against the Ottawa Senators).

    The Maple Leafs lost Tyler Bozak to an apparent upper-body injury thanks to a questionable hit by Sens forward Mika Zibanejad.

    You can judge that check (which drew a minor penalty for illegal check to the head) in the video above. Again, Bozak will not return to tonight’s game.

    It’s unclear if Bozak will miss time beyond this contest.

    Malcolm Subban hospitalized after taking puck to throat

    Malcolm Subban
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    Scary stuff on Saturday: multiple reporters (including the Maine Hockey Journal’s Chris Roy) note that Malcolm Subban was taken to a hospital after a puck struck his throat during warm-ups.

    There’s no word yet on Subban’s condition beyond that he was taken away in an ambulance.

    The AHL’s Providence Bruins seem like they’ve been left scrambling for a backup goalie in Subban’s absence.

    Subban stated days ago that he’s taken some significant steps forward during the 2015-16 season.

     

    Senators get Kyle Turris back on Saturday

    Ottawa Senators' Kyle Turris celebrates his game-winning goal against the Montreal Canadiens during overtime of an NHL hockey game Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2015, in Montreal. (Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press via AP)
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    The Ottawa Senators cannot pin all of their troubles on missing their No. 1 center, yet it probably feels like a huge relief to get him back.

    After missing six games with his latest injury, Kyle Turris is in the lineup as the Senators take on the Toronto Maple Leafs.

    Again, it’s not all a matter of missing Turris, but the Senators went 1-5-0 during his six-game absence. They’ve really been falling since late December, to be honest.

    Will Turris be enough to stop the bleeding? Perhaps to an extent, but the Senators are in for a serious battle if they hope to fight through the East bubble.

    Habs’ win was a showcase for P.K. Subban, Connor McDavid

    Montreal Canadiens defensemen  P.K. Subban (76) holds off Edmonton Oilers' Connor McDavid during the third period of an NHL hockey game in Montreal, Saturday, Feb. 6, 2016. (Graham Hughes /The Canadian Press via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT
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    Times have been tough for Montreal Canadiens and Edmonton Oilers fans lately, even if they’ve been frustrating in different ways.

    Saturday’s 5-1 Habs win highlights a few things, but the most tantalizing thought for those fans is that it’s likely that we’ll see more great things from P.K. Subban and Connor McDavid … sometimes against each other.

    Perhaps this will be a confidence booster for Montreal. More than anything else, it directed attention to Subban, who’s quietly been absolutely fantastic for the floundering Canadiens.

    Consider how much of an offensive burden he’s currently carrying:

    From one current All-Star to someone who could be a perennial one: McDavid certainly seemed to grab Subban’s attention.

    Then again, when you make moves like these, who won’t notice?

    The Oilers did lose, mind you, so it’s not surprising that Todd McLellan mentioned that the team can’t depend upon McDavid for everything.

    That said, the funny thing about that quote is that McDavid might just carry the Oilers for two decades, at least if health and other factors go the right way.

    If that’s true, Subban vs. McDavid could be a fun matchup to watch a few times per season for a long, long time.