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Pocket Aces or 2/7 Unsuited?

Nikita Filatov - Pocket Aces or 2-7 Offsuit?

Bryan Murray traded the 66th selection in the NHL Entry draft to Columbus for Nikita Filatov.  Filatov was the Blue Jackets’ first round pick, 6th  overall in 2007.  Since then it has been a roller coaster ride for the talented but so far enigmatic winger.

Filatov has had a sour relationship with almost every coach he has had, which makes me wonder why Bryan Murray would subject new Senators coach Paul MacLean to such an individual right off the bat.  Filatov was stripped of the captaincy in a feud with Russian Junior head coach Vladimir Plyushchev before their final game of the 2010 WJC.  He also feuded with Ken Hitchcock (he’s not alone there) and Scott Arniel in the Columbus system, which contributed to his not being able to secure a full time NHL job.  Filatov told Murray that he is excited to get a new start in Ottawa (according to Yahoo.com), and looks forward to joining the Senators, after telling Columbus GM Scott Howson that he wanted to play in the KHL this season, which led to the trade.

This is going to go one of two ways.  Either Filatov will listen to the coaching, do his job and become a top line player heading into restricted free agency, or he will wear out his welcome quickly and get sent to either Binghamton or back to the KHL.  This year will likely be his last chance in the NHL if he blows it.

It is a risk worth taking, since they do have options if he doesn’t work out early.  Worst case scenario, you gave up a 66th overall pick to take a flyer on a talented player that didn’t pan out, and get rid of  him.  Meanwhile the best case scenario is a 35-40 goal scorer riding shotgun with Jason Spezza on the Senators’ first line.  It is a gamble for less than $1 M that Murray can fold his cards and push away from the table at any time, unlike some other similar gambles he has made in the last few years with talented but enigmatic personalities, not pointing to anyone in particular (COUGH AK27 COUGH).

Filatov has managed 13 points (6 goals, 7 assists) in 44 career games spanning 3 seasons with the Jackets.

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Tags: Alex Kovalev Bryan Murray Jason Spezza Ken Hitchcock Nikita Filatov Scott Arniel

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