Filatov wants out; Sens say not so fast
BRUCE GARRIOCH, QMI Agency
|Ottawa Senator Nikita Filatov eludes the check of Boston Bruins Chris Kelly during third period pre-season action at Scotiabank Place, Sept. 21, 2011. (ERROL MCGIHON/QMI Agency)
Nikita Filatov wants to take the money and run all the way back to Moscow.
Senators GM Bryan Murray confirmed Wednesday the 21-year-old top prospect isn’t happy playing with the club’s AHL affiliate in Binghamton and asked for his release, so he can suit up for the Central Red Army in the KHL.
In a meeting last Sunday when the Baby Sens were at Scotiabank Place for a game, Murray told Filatov he won’t be going anywhere soon and that he might to wait until the end of November for a decision.
“He has some concern about being in Binghamton. He wants to be in the NHL,” Murray said at Rexall Place as the Senators geared up to face the Oilers Thursday. “There are some options for him.
“He has a contract and an obligation to our organization. What I told him is, ‘We’re going on a road trip for two weeks. Go down and play in Binghamton, play hard. If we feel at the end of the trip that we’d like to give an opportunity to you again ... and if by the end of November you’re not in the NHL, I will sit down and talk with you again.’ That may happen sooner.”
Murray said it’s not up to Filatov to decide his future and the organization understands he can make more money in Russia than his $65,000 salary in the AHL. There was talk Wednesday he's already agreed to a deal but Murray said that is not true.
“From what I understand the KHL honours NHL contracts,” said Murray. “So the option is not Filatov’s, it’s the Ottawa Senators (to decide).”
The Senators knew the risk when they acquired Filatov from Columbus for a third-round pick in June. Filatov, the sixth overall selection in 2008, wasn't happy with a small role under former Blue Jackets coach Ken Hitchcock.
Filatov was given plenty of opportunity by Senators coach Paul MacLean in training camp, but wasn't a standout. He had one assist in six regular-season games before he was demoted.
“As the coaching staff said here, they just want to see him compete a little bit more,” said Murray. “We all know talent-wise he can play in the NHL. It’s the other parts of the game, that don’t include all his talent, that you have to be able to (work with).”
These are the same issues the Jackets had to deal with and the big reason why GM Scott Howson traded him to Ottawa in the first place. It’s believed Murray has sniffed around the NHL to see if there’s any interest in Filatov.
“Lots of young players, whether they’re named Filatov or not, get wrapped up in being an offensive player,” said Murray. “We all recognize that guys get points. We don’t recognize the guys that hit the post in overtime with an empty net. They don’t recognized and we know that.
“So, he thinks that he has to be a point-getter, an offensive threat to be in the NHL. We’ve repeatedly told him since he has come here, and I don’t know what said to him in Columbus and I really don’t care, all I know is we’ve asked him to be a little more grounded so that he’s a contributor.”
He had contributed for the Baby Sens, with four goals and two assists in 11 games — something he'd had to do to stick with Ottawa.
“We want him to be an NHL player. We want his skills and abilities here in Ottawa,” said MacLean. “The problem we have is when he comes here and plays, he doesn’t do the things that he does down there. If you come on the ice and actually do something, and play, the coach is probably going to give you the chance to do something again.”