Breaking: Nikita Filatov Loaned to CSKA

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 .

and…

Filatov’s agent tells RIAN the will have to make a decision whether to allow Filatov to return to Russia to join ‘s CSKA.

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:

G A P +/- PIM PPG SHG S S% Shifts TOI
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.)

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