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.