Ottawa Senators general manager Bryan Murray acquired Nikita Filatov from the Columbus Blue Jackets at the NHL entry draft on Saturday for next to nothing, a mere third-round draft pick, giving the club a top-six forward and left-winger for star Jason Spezza.
Photograph by: Richard Wolowicz, Getty Images
ST. PAUL, Minnesota — It could be one of the shrewdest moves of Bryan Murray’s career.
The Ottawa Senators general manager acquired Nikita Filatov from the Columbus Blue Jackets at the NHL entry draft on Saturday for next to nothing, a mere third-round draft pick, giving the club a top-six forward and left-winger for star Jason Spezza.
But the deal doesn’t come without its potential headaches.
Filatov, the sixth overall pick in 2008, wore out his welcome during his three years in the Blue Jackets organization, frustrating coaches with the defensive indifference in his game that ultimately led to less playing time and, during the 2009-10 season, even a request for a transfer to his Russian club team, CSKA Moscow of the Kontinental Hockey League, which Columbus agreed to complete.
Still, Murray sees enough upside in Filatov to take the chance.
“There’s no risk in this at all,” Murray said. “It’s a third-round pick to take a shot at a guy who was No. 6 overall. It’s a no-lose for us. It’s an absolute steal if he plays in the top-six (forwards), and, if he can’t do that, somebody else gets a chance to play that role.”
Filatov’s play has hardly reflected his supposed skill. In Columbus last season, he played 23 games and recorded only seven assists in an average of 12:19 of ice time.
With Springfield of the American Hockey League, he had nine goals and 20 assists in 36 games, and, a team source said, was an unwelcome influence.
In a phone call Saturday, Filatov told Murray he was excited about the trade and a chance for a fresh start. The Senators are trying to bring him to Ottawa for their development camp this week.
“Why is it a gamble? He’s a great kid,” said Murray. “He’s a guy who has high-end skill who wants to be an NHL player. I think it’s a chance to acquire something for a third-round pick that would otherwise we wouldn’t get.
“You’ll watch and I’ll watch at camp and we’ll figure out if he’s good enough. It’s as simple as that.”
Filatov is in the final year of his entry-level contract, meaning he can be sent to Binghamton of the American Hockey League if he doesn’t make the Senators roster. His NHL salary is $875,000 US.
Blue Jackets general manager Scott Howson said he made the deal because Filatov had told him almost two weeks ago that he was planning to stay in Russia next season.
“It got to a point where Nikita had requested a change, and we were really looking at getting an asset of this level (the third-round pick) or we were letting him stay in Russia again,” Howson said. “It’s not something you want to do, but I also believe we all make mistakes in this league and you’ve got to move on from your mistakes.”
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