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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Is Filatov a flight risk?

Puck-daddy posted a great interview with Jackets blue chipper Nikita Filatov yesterday.

You can check out the entire interview here but there were a couple of Q&As that certainly got my attention and no doubt the brass down on Nationwide Blvd as well:

Evaluate your chances in Columbus. Will you get into the first team in the coming season?

I don't even want to think about a different outcome. I have been working very hard this summer. Nothing should stand in the way of me getting into the NHL. Ideally, I have to break into the second line where there is more ice time; you play more on special teams.

Were you called to the KHL this offseason?

I was called this summer and during last season. I am not going to name teams...

And I bet you were offered more money.

A lot more. Times more.

What is holding you in America?

When I was 18 I made a decision to play in the NHL. This decision did not come easy. But what is the point of backing off now? It would make more sense if I didn't play well. But everything is going good for me right now across the ocean.

Speaking the language of finance, your stock should go up before you sell it. When you start playing like Ovechkin you will make $9-$10 million per season.

I am not even thinking about the money. I am just 19! Everything will depend on my game. If I end up in the farm team or on the bench, it would be one thing. Then you can start thinking about the KHL. Simply because I [would not be] playing hockey. But right now my aspiration is that I must break into the NHL and play the entire season there. Also the moral side of the question is important. I don't want to lie to Columbus who I have a valid contract with. Everyone treats me really well. I hope I will play for that team
.

I love this kid's candor and honesty but statements like....

"If I end up in the farm team or on the bench, it would be one thing. Then you can start thinking about the KHL. Simply because I [would not be] playing hockey."

..make me nervous.

I don't think he intends it but it's easy for one to interpret that line as if they don't play me I'll bolt. Not exactly the kind of message, intended or not, you want to be sending before NHL camp opens.

Filatov is a smart kid though. He saw how the organizations two other elite prospects in Brassard and Voracek were brought along early in their first full time NHL seasons and how once they gained the coaches trust their minutes and roles both increased.

To expect to be treated much differently than those two right out of the gate would be a mis-calculation on his part.

The good thing is he'll have those two to lean on when he does get frustrated with a lack of minutes (because those games are going to happen) and hopefully they can help keep him upbeat because if this kid is what everyone thinks he is, it's only a matter of time....

Now he could come in and leave a blazing trail of fire in his wake and force himself into those prime time playing minutes......



.....that would be fantastic but you have to earn it and you have to be prepared to take your rookie lumps along the way.

Nothing is given and I have no doubt Filatov knows this.

He needs to trust his coaches and believe in them. They will do what is best for his development.

As I stated before I questioned Hitch quite a bit early on last season with the lack of playing time for Brassard and Voracek and outside of injury those two both went onto have very respectable rookie campaigns.

I was clearly wrong and Hitch clearly knows what he's doing.

So back to the question - is Filatov a flight risk? Anytime you draft a Russian that risk is there but I think his dream to play and excel in the NHL is to grand and to close to turn back now for the riches of the KHL.

At the end of the day though it's all up to Nikita Filatov. I'm one fan who wants nothing more to see him have success right where he belongs - in union blue.

-LTL

8 comments:

Max said...

Saw the article over on Puck Rakers. His comments certainly are interesting. To be honest though I think that he knows he signed a contract with this team and I don't think he would do anything to get out of it. Once the contract is up, if he's not getting the playing time he wants, then he might go.

A question for the legal guy here: If a player bolts on a contract is there anything a team can do as far as sueing a player for money?

JuneyMoon said...

A couple of weeks ago Slava Fetisov, who is now the GM of the TSSKA, gave an interview in which he said that they had talked to Nikita this summer and tried to convince him not to come back over here. He also used Nikita as an example of why young players shouldn't come overseas right after they are drafted.

He has people telling him every day that he has made a mistake. Filatov seems pretty stubborn, and has a lot of pride, but he's also smart enough to cut his losses if it comes down to it.

Nikita is not going to be Alexandre Picard, bouncing back and forth between the NHL and AHL when he's 24 years old.

The Blue Jackets need to keep a good line of communication open between Filatov and themselves. Filatov is an asset, and part of good asset management is deciding to let go of it before its value starts to drop.

JuneyMoon said...

Just adding on...

I'm not saying they should trade him, definitely not now. They just need to make sure they know where that crafty little head's at before he springs a surprise on them in a couple of years.

PS, at least the word verification thing on blogspot is clear enough to read the letters!

Tom said...

Realistically, I can't see how Filatov could get Ovechkin money from Columbus...even if he deserved it. Columbus is a budget team, and Rick Nash is the (only?) high-dollar player for the team.

Thus, I'd suggest playing him, letting him shine and trading him before his contract expires.

If he's as good as his potential indicates is possible, a wise Howson trade of Filatov could yield a long-term future for the franchise in Columbus along the lines of what Jerry Jones got for Herschel Walker from the Minnesota Vikings.

JAL said...

Keep in mind that the Puck Daddy piece was an edited reprint of an interview conducted in Russia by a Russian journalist.

In those circumstances, Filatov is bound to be diplomatic and not say anything to be overly critical of Russia or the KHL. It is not dissimilar to the way Nash responded to interviews in Ontario about becoming a Leaf, before signing his new deal. People here went into a panic when they read those pieces as well.

He signalled that he believes in honoring his contracts, and I really think he wants to be a star in the NHL, just like his hero, Ilya Kovalchuk.

Could the KHL snatch him after his entry level contract? Sure, but that is a ways off. Let's focus on training camp right now. ;-)

--JAL
A Shot From The Point

LTL said...

Good point about Filatov trying to please both sides of the ocean.

I love his openess and candor but when you throw up juicy quotes like those we internet piranas are gonna chomp.

My crystal ball predicts much more juice from Filatov. Huselius may start to get jealous.

-LTL

DP@WFNY said...

Nikita is not going to be Alexandre Picard, bouncing back and forth between the NHL and AHL when he's 24 years old.

Absolutely. In just the few games he got to play with the big club, he showed he already has the skates and the hands to make it in the NHL with some growth. If the Trick against the Wild last year didn't convince the brass that he's a goal-scorer, nothing will.

My main concern has always been his size.

JuneyMoon said...

Filatov won't go back to Russia from the Blue Jackets, anyway. If anything, he would use the threat to get himself traded to another team.

Actually, as most things involving Filatov and the KHL do, this article kind of backfired in Russia. It was like "you had this kid at juniors wages, you let him get away, and now you're offering him big bucks to come back?"