According to Steve Lloyd of TEAM 1200 Ottawa, Senators GM Bryan Murray has severed ties with Nikita Filatov.
“He signed [in Russia],” Murray said in explaining why he’s not going to make Filatov a qualifying offer. “He made the decision.”
The news hardly comes as a surprise. In May, Filatov signed a two-year deal with Salavaty Yulaev of the KHL, essentially severing whatever ties he had left to the NHL.
That decision came after Filatov already spurned the Ottawa organization in December, by not reporting for assignment to AHL Binghamton.
If this is indeed the final nail in Filatov’s NHL coffin, it leaves a legacy of unfulfilled promise. The highly-skilled Russian — taken ahead of Erik Karlsson, Cody Hodgson, Tyler Myers, Jordan Eberle and Michael Del Zotto at the ’08 draft — initially drew comparisons to Ilya Kovalchuk and broke onto the scene by scoring in his NHL debut, then notching a hat trick four games later.
But rifts with management (most notably in Columbus) and a lack of interest in learning the defensive side of the game became his undoing.
On the plus side, he did give us the “Filly don’t do rebounds” story, which is a beaut.
Nikita Filatov, we hardly knew ye.
The former Blue Jackets draft bust and Senators forward disappointment will be staying in Russia for the next two seasons. According to the team website for Salavat Yulaev in the KHL, Filatov has signed a two-year deal with the team (link in Russian).
Filatov started this season with the Ottawa Senators looking to make something of his career in the NHL, but did not live up to expectations and rather than work on his game in the AHL all over again, was allowed to go to Russia where he played for CSKA this season.
The former sixth overall selection of the Blue Jackets in 2008 has been nothing but a disappointment in North America playing in 53 games over parts of four seasons amassing just six goals and eight assists. With CSKA this season he had four goals and four assists in 18 games. While he might come back someday to the NHL, right now that possibility doesn’t seem likely.
The Columbus Blue Jackets are poised to pick first overall this summer at the NHL draft. In the past when they’ve had high picks, they’ve had some trouble. While they were able to snag Rick Nash first overall in 2002, they’ve had issues in other years.
With this year’s draft featuring top prospects like Russians Nail Yakupov and Mikhail Grigorenko, the Jackets are in a curious position. Toronto Sun columnist Steve Simmons says he has a solution for Columbus: Trade away their first-round pick to avoid having to take a potential Russian superstar.
Twice in recent history, the Jackets used an early pick on a Russian forward. Twice they failed. It didn’t work out with Nikolai Zherdev or with Nikita Filatov. They can’t afford to fail a third time with the franchise so tender.
The options, along with dealing Nash, are this for Columbus: 1) They could keep the pick and not choose Yakupov, which would be counter-productive; 2) They could flip picks with another team, trading the first choice for another early choice, and getting an asset as well; 3) They could trade the pick to the highest bidder and begin rebuilding their team.
The problem here is that guys like Filatov and Zherdev weren’t labeled as “can’t miss” prospects. Yakupov and Grigorenko are potential franchise-changing players given what they’ve been able to do as juniors. If the Jackets wind up dealing Nash this summer, they’re going to need someone to fill his role as the offensive go-to guy and to do that they’ll need it to come from one of these future stars.
Then again, with how miserably the Blue Jackets have been run throughout their short history, blowing this situation would be all too familiar of a circumstance.