Eighty-eight minutes and twenty-two seconds. That's the amount of playing time that it took for the Ottawa Senators organization to determine that Nikita Filatov did not have a future with the team this season. In other words, like his doppelganger's character from HBO's Game of Thrones, Nikita Filatov is headed east across the narrow sea.
First reported by Slava Malamud, Nikita Filatov will be loaned by the Ottawa Senators to CSKA of the Kontinental Hockey League. In doing so, the final year of his current contract will come off but the Senators are off the hook for paying the remainder of his salary. In case you're wondering, I can’t imagine any scenario in which management doesn’t qualify Filatov with an offer this summer so that they can retain his NHL rights and leave the door open for a prospective return.
The timing of the announcement itself makes sense. In light of the fact that Filatov was suspiciously up until the wee hours of the morning responding to Formspring questions on a Monday (Paul MacLean's "Monday is a day for work") when the team had a scheduled practice, you had to know that something was amiss.
For anyone who’s been paying attention the writing has been on the wall for the past number of weeks. In mid-November, Yahoo! Sports' Dmitri Chesnokov (@dchesnokov) picked up on Russian reports that
Nikita Filatov's Russian agent says Filatov is considering returning to Russia after another demotion to the minors by the
At the time, Bryan Murray indicated that he was reluctant to let Filatov leave and that the prospect would receive another opportunity to play before the end of November. Murray was true to his word and on November 27th, Filatov was promoted from Binghamton to replace the demoted Stephane Da Costa. Filatov would go on to play in three games before being relegated to the pressbox for the Saturday, December 3rd game against Washington.
In his absence from the lineup, the Senators went 1-2-2 and the wingers -- Bobby Butler and Colin Greening -- that Paul MacLean used regularly Jason Spezza's line just didn't contribute much of anything offensively. It was safe to assume that if Filatov couldn't draw into the lineup under these circumstances, he didn't have a future here for the rest of this season. The return of Peter Regin, another top six forward, just sealed his fate.
Filatov's departure marks a sad ending for the once ballyhooed prospect. Ottawa was supposed to represent the fresh start that the highly skilled 21-year old needed after escaping the Blue Jackets and Ken Hitchcock's shadow. In training camp, much was made about the criticisms and lack of opportunities that he received in Columbus and we lauded Bryan Murray for his willingness to roll the dice and exploit a market inefficiency. Unlike Columbus, playoff aspirations seemed silly at the time. As a rebuilding team that many (including myself) had written off, it was believed that Ottawa could afford to acquire young talent and give it an opportunity to play without having to worry about its effect on the wins and losses columns.
Nevertheless, in Ottawa, it has been more of the same. To their credit, or thanks to the NHL’s current points system, the Senators’ record is better than many pundits had expected. Despite having the league’s sixth-worst goal differential, the team is still playing meaningful games in December and they’re just one point back Washington and the Eastern Conference’s eighth playoff seed. Score one for NHL parity!
Unfortunately for everyone involved, questions are inevitably going to linger. Fans will wonder how the organization could assess and give up on a promising player when he's averaging 9 minutes and 49 seconds of ice-time per game. Others will question Filatov’s mental make-up or lazily slap the enigmatic Russian tag on him; saying that it must have had something to do with his attitude or work ethic because Filly don’t do rebounds.
In all likelihood however, this was probably just a textbook example of a coach and organization putting the short-term results of the team ahead of an individual player’s development at the NHL level.Here is Filatov's 2011-12 game log:
|OTT @ DAL||0||0||0||-1||0||0||0||1||0.0||20||14:41|
|OTT @ WPG||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||5||3:30|
|CAR @ OTT||0||0||0||1||2||0||0||1||0.0||24||15:07|
|BUF @ OTT||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||1||0.0||10||8:51|
|MTL @ OTT||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||1||0.0||11||7:18|
|OTT @ BOS||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||13||6:34|
|TOR @ OTT||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||1||0.0||7||5:16|
|OTT @ TOR||0||0||0||0||2||0||0||0||17||12:32|
|OTT @ DET||0||1||1||1||0||0||0||1||0.0||18||14:33|
I have crunched Filatov’s numbers further:
- 9 games played
- 88:22 of total TOI
- 9:49 TOI per game
- 9:49 of total PP TOI
- 1:05 PP TOI per game
- 78:33 of total even-strength TOI
- 57.3% of his EV TOI and 65.7% of his PP TOI with Jason Spezza.
In other words, of his accumulated 88 minutes and 22 seconds, he played 51 minutes and 27 seconds with Spezza. This works out to an average of 5:43 TOI with Spezza per game or 7.62 shifts per game. (Note: used 45 second average shift length to get this figure.)
You can slice and dice the numbers any way you like. He's just not an NHL player right now. Anyone who watched the Carolina, Winnipeg, and Dallas games saw that he was out of place. His decision making is not even close to NHL speed and his strength is abysmal.
Of course people will say he wasn't given a fair opportunity and that the Sens are putting results ahead of development, but you just can't keep a kid in the lineup for very long when he's not contributing and is also playing soft and afraid. The only person to blame for ruining his development is himself. By bolting for Russia two years ago and again now he's putting short team financial gain ahead of improving his chances to become an NHL player.
It was a good risk for Murray to take, but it didn't work out. Time to move on.
@MelnyksHangovers Fair points. With the way in which he's played, he looks like a tentative young player who is afraid to make mistakes at the NHL level. Not sure whether it's a confidence thing or if he's simply afraid to face the consequences of making physical/mental mistakes on the ice.
@Nichols6thSens I don't think it's confidence. I think it's just that he can't handle the speed and skill in the NHL at this point. He looks like a completely different player in the AHL. Unlike Butler, who plays like a lazy vagina in both leagues. I really hope they ship his ass to Bingo soon. It's painful to watch him right now.
He's not ready to play in the NHL. Murray even said he needs to get stronger. Columbus really messed him up putting him in the AHL at the age of 18. I think all the good Russian NHL players didn't come over til they were age 20 or older (Kovalchuk is the only exception I think).
Ottawa will give him a qualifying offer to keep his rights and I think he'll sign for a few years in the KHL. Maybe when he gets stronger, becomes more mature he'll come back once he's sick of the KHL and the money factor wears off.
I find it hard to believe he really wants to play there, most Russian NHL players have stated they prefer the NHL.
I think there's at least a small chance we'll see him in Ottawa again.
@77Sens Of course the caveat to that is Ottawa actually stands a great chance of being significantly better than they are up front in a few years. By the time that Filatov demonstrates a willingness to return, guys like Silfverberg, Puempel, Noesen, Prince, or Pageau could be vying for spots. Moreover, a number of players from the current might still be here or a free agent/trade could bring more job competition into the mix.
I don't want to believe that he can't make it but the current state of the roster should have been the ideal opportunity for him to crack the roster.