Morning Papers Take: Losing Filatov would be a disaster

Posted by Richard Pollock in Morning Papers take,NHL Morning Papers on November 17, 2009 — 3 Comments

In the Western Conference Morning Papers, Tom Reed and Aaron Portzline report that Nikita Filatov may be heading to the KHL:

Blue Jackets rookie forward Nikita Filatov, who has struggled to remain in coach Ken Hitchcock’s lineup, might be headed back to Russia, perhaps as soon as this week, according to sources within and beyond the NHL.

Jackets general manager Scott Howson would not comment on a potential agreement allowing the 19-year-old Filatov to return to his former club team, CSKA Moscow. Nothing has been finalized, however, and Filatov and the Blue Jackets are expected to talk again today about the possibility of staying in Columbus.

If Filatov returns home and begins to play in the KHL all bets are off on whether he would return to the Blue Jackets.  Once you lose a player to another league, there is no saying whether Filatov will feel far more comfortable playing in his home country and stick around there for at least a few years.  With that, Filatov would move closer to free agency without playing any substantial time with the team that drafted him in the top ten of the first round.

Some Blue Jackets fans were worried that Nikita Filatov would turn into the next Nikolai Zherdev and I didn’t think that was the case at the time.  I’m not so sure the situations are completely analgous, but the situation appears to be unfolding in the same way.  Zherdev, although traded to NY, is now in the KHL and who knows whether he will return or not?  Do the Jackets want to experience the same situation with their sixth overall pick?

At least with Zherdev, the Blue Jackets were able to get a useful asset in return–Fedor Tyutin.  In Filatov’s case, he appears to be considering heading to the KHL and nothing would comeback in return.  Sure he is really young, but his mindset may be that of staying at home for a prolonged period of time. 

There is too much risk involved here for Columbus.  Filatov has immense skill–maybe the second most on the Jackets to forward Rick Nash.  Sure he may not “battle” but he is 19 years old and will mature and develop throughout the next couple seasons.  What you cannot teach, is his skill and hockey sense.  This kid has hands of gold, can skate and is a future top notch NHL goal scorer. 

I know the Blue Jackets have lots of young talent, but playing in a market where the team routinely loses over $10 million per season, maintaining your own talented, cheap young assets is imperative.

Watch for GM Scott Howson to do everything he can to keep Filatov on this side of the Atlantic.