Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Nikita Filatov: Russian Off to KHL

Coach Hitchcock strikes again.

Columbus Blue Jackets' winger Nikita Filatov has been loaned to CSKA of the KHL. The 19 year-old scored just 2 goals in 13 games this year for the Jackets, averaging a mere 8:07 minutes of ice-time a game. Columbus did the same thing to the young Russian last year, as he saw limited action in just 8 NHL games while spending most of the year in the AHL - though he did net his first NHL hat trick.

Notorious for bringing along young talent at a snail's pace, Coach Ken Hitchcock refused to give Filatov big minutes to show what he can do - evidenced by his season-high of 14:06 in a 9-1 loss to the Red Wings. Filatov was often lining up on the 4th line and receiving minimal powerplay time. Hitchcock does not like to expose his young talent to big minutes until he feels they are responsible in all three zones. Second year winger Jakub Voracek seems to be miles ahead of Nikita in this field as he is playing in all situations. Hitchcock did the same thing to another teenage star in Gilbert Brule which stunted his offensive development before trading him to Edmonton in the off-season.

Fantasy Impact:

If you own Filatov in a keeper league, this is actually good news. He will go to Russia and get the ice-time he needs to develop his elite offensive skills. Remember, coming out of the 2008 Draft, Filatov was thought to have as much offensive upside, if not more, as #1 pick Steven Stamkos. Filatov will also likely play for Russia at the upcoming WJHC in Saskatoon and should be one of the more dominant players. Lets face it, his game was not developing while getting limited ice-time under Ken Hitchcock. The Jackets realized it and so should you. Hold onto this kid, he could regain his confidence and end up beign the rookie of the year next season.


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