On paper, the trade that Bryan Murray made to acquire Nikita Filatov from Columbus in exchange for a third-round pick in this year's draft, seems low risk. Filatov is in the final year of a two-way, entry-level contract, and LW has always been a thin point for the Sens. That said, with only 36 games of NHL-level action under his belt in the past two years (and that little side trip to the KHL), you have to wonder how quickly he's going to come along. This, of course, was exacerbated by Murray's mention of Nikita's potential as a "top-six forward." Now you know how I love to get down on casino games, but forgive me if I'm a bit hesitant to take this action right now.
Murray has framed the "top-six" comment with a number of caveats -- "We're going to give (Nikita) every opportunity"; "If he's (not a top-six) we would have to look at other options", etc. In short, it actually sounds like Murray is being cautious about the matter, and how could you blame him? The Sens' history with flashy, speedy Russian forwards has been a long and woeful tale. But that hasn't stopped fans from attaching the "white knight" labels to other young Russians who have come through the system, like Alexei Kaigorodov and Ilya Zubov. Not to veer into the dreaded Cherry Day-Glo territory here, but you can't help but raise an eyebrow based on previous history...and the knowledge that Filatov has baggage (see the previous venture back to his homeland's league).
But all it took was a simple mention of "top-six", and some Sens fans seemed ready to, yet again, put all their eggs in one basket. A quick tweet by yours truly suggesting that we not pencil in Filatov for 40 goals alongside Spezza, lead to multiple battles via Twitter and e-mail on Filatov's ability, including one memorable bit of advice, which told me to "think of (Filatov) as (Alexei) Kovalev on a two-way contract." Sold! Why didn't I think of that?
It seems like Murray is prepared to temper his expectations, but I'm not sure about the fans. It's been a quite a while since fans have seen a nice combination of speed and legitimate scoring out of a single player; combine that with the need to bulk up the top end of the team, and you've set some lofty expectations for a kid who has yet to prove himself (and will need to do so within the span of next season). You may not be able to get casino reviews and subsequent action in the sportsbooks on an NHL player's future potential, but forgive me if I don't want to get down any action, regardless. And for the record, that doesn't make me a pessimist; it makes me a realist.
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