Gamble? Sens' deal for Filatov could pay off big

BRUCE GARRIOCH, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:55 AM ET

OTTAWA - Nikita Filatov was supposed to be a star, but he was anything but in Columbus.

Now he’s going to get a fresh start and the Senators, giving up very little in return, are taking a gamble that could pay off big.

Filatov, only 21 and three years removed from being selected No. 6 overall at Scotiabank Place — was given a change of scenery Saturday by the Blue Jackets, who decided they couldn’t wait for potential to turn into on-ice results.

After bolting back to Russia to play in the KHL only 23 games into last season, Filatov, who was taken nine spots ahead of Ottawa standout Erik Karlsson, was dealt to the Senators in exchange for the No. 66 pick in the draft.

Filatov is going to get a chance to fill the club’s need for a top-six forward at training camp in September.

“We’d been having some casual conversations about (Filatov) but nothing serious until (Friday) when (Columbus) came to us and told us they wanted a third-round pick,” said assistant GM Tim Murray.

“We discussed it Friday, they came to us again (Saturday), they seemed to be anxious, they wanted to do it, so we had lots of discussions at our table. We called our three pro scouts and we discussed it (with coach) Paul MacLean because he’s got to be willing to give him the chance.”

The Jackets and Filatov were just never a fit. He wasn’t happy with his ice time under Ken Hitchcock and that didn’t change when Scott Arniel took over as coach.

The Blue Jackets didn’t like the embarrassment a top prospect like Filatov was causing them by playing in Russia. GM Scott Howson told Columbus reporters the Senators were the only team to make an offer and the options were limited.

“We were either getting a third-round pick or we were going to let him stay in Russia again,” said Howson. “It was just time for everybody to move on. We wish him all the best. I decided to try to move him for an asset at this point.

“It’s not a great move and it’s not something you want to do. I’m also a believer that we all make mistakes in this business and you’ve got to move on from your mistakes. I’m not saying in any way, shape or form that Nikita isn’t going to play in the NHL. It just didn’t work in Columbus.”

And that’s why the Senators are hopeful it will work here.

“He’s a young kid that hasn’t figured it out yet. That’s what development is all about,” said Murray. “No disrepect to (Columbus) or anything, but (Filatov) didn’t feel he got a great chance there under their former regime.

“When he made a mistake, he didn’t get back on the ice there. When young players make mistakes, you have to be willing to live with them, as long as they’re working hard. We’re willing to take a chance. Gamble or chance? I don’t know if it’s gamble. He’s got a lot of talent. He’s still got a lot of his career left and we’re hoping he can develop.”

In 44 career NHL games over three seasons, Filatov has six goals and seven assists. While those numbers aren’t going to bowl anybody, flashes of his potential have the Senators excited about the deal. The Senators will be young next season and he should fit right in.

“If it doesn’t work for him, then we’ll put somebody else in that spot,” said Murray.


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