Senators want Filatov but he needs to earn his spot

Nikita Filatov’s tenure with the Ottawa Senators could be over by the end of November.

Nikita Filatov’s tenure with the Ottawa Senators could be over by the end of November.
Unhappy about being in the minors and being pursued by Central Red Army of the KHL, Filatov met with Ottawa general manager Bryan Murray on Sunday.
Murray in turn promised the 21-year-old Russian he would make a decision by the end of the month.
If the decision is that Filatov can’t play on the NHL team, Murray said he would try to make an arrangement that would see Filatov return to Russia.
Central Red Army’s general manager, former NHL player Sergei Nemchinov, has called Murray about Filatov.
But because the KHL and the NHL have a reciprocal agreement to honour each other’s contracts, Filatov can’t return to Russia unless the Senators agree to release him from his contract. And Murray’s not close to doing that.
Murray’s gone through this before.
In Anaheim, Sami Pahlsson asked to be allowed to return to Sweden because he didn’t like being sent to the minors.
Murray said no and refused all requests from Swedish teams. Unable to play in Sweden, Pahlsson eventually had to return to the Ducks – who sent him straight back to Cincinnati.
The enticement for Filatov is that in the KHL he can make 10 times the $65,000 he is making in the AHL.
“He wants to be in the NHL, obviously,” said Murray.
“There are some options for him. The Central Red Army team in Moscow has contacted him. “But he has a contract and obligation to our organization.
“Basically, what I told him, ‘We’re going on a road trip for two weeks.
“‘Go down and play in Binghamton, and play hard. If we feel at the end of our trip that we’d like to give an opportunity to you again – (coach) Paul (MacLean) has said we’d be moving you up and down a few times – if you’re playing well, we will give you an opportunity to again show your wares here.
“‘And then, by the end of November, if you’re not in the NHL, I will sit down and talk with you again.’
“It may happen before then, one way or the other, but from what I understand, and I believe it to be true, the KHL honours our contracts, and we honour theirs.
“So the option is not Filatov’s, it’s the Ottawa Senators.”
The Senators acquired Filatov from the Columbus Blues Jackets for a third-round pick during last summer’s draft.
The Blue Jackets, who drafted Filatov sixth overall in 2008 decided to give up on Filatov. They experienced the same frustrations Murray’s is experiencing now.
Murray said Filatov doesn’t have to be a superstar, though he has the skills to be one. He just has to play like he means it, which means playing a little tougher along the boards and winning the odd battle.
“The coaching staff here just want to see him compete a little bit more,” said Murray.
“We all know what Nikita brings. He brings talent. He brings puck skills.
“We’d like him to be just a touch better in other areas.”
Filatov has just one assist in six games with the Senators. In 11 games in Binghamton, he has had four goals and two assists.
Coach Paul MacLean, who will get a big voice in the final decision, says he’d like nothing better than to have Filatov on his team. But he’s not going to be given it as a gift.
“When I talked to Nikita last week when we sent him, (I told him) we want him to be a NHL player,” said MacLean.
“We want his skill, his abilities here in Ottawa to help our team. The problem is, when he comes up here to play, he doesn’t do the things he does when he’s down there.
“When he’s there, he’s a star and he has the puck all the time and he makes other people better and he attacks the net and he’s a dangerous player.
“When he comes here he doesn’t do that. Yes, he’s only played maybe on the fourth line and played seven minutes or whatnot.
“But if you go on the ice and you actually do something and play, the coach is probably going to give you an opportunity to play again, because the coach wants to put you on the ice.
“I told him that, as well: ‘I want to put you on the ice, but I can’t put you on the ice just because you think you should play 17 minutes.
“If you come here and are prepared to work, you’re going to get those minutes, but you have to play in order to get them.’”
In Binghamton, Filatov told the Press & Sun-Bulletin he couldn’t talk about the KHL rumours.
“No reason,” he said. “Just rumours.”
But he was at practice on Wednesday.

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