Why the Maple Leafs Should Go After “Straight-Jacketed” Nikita Filatov

Mike TaylorContributor INovember 17, 2009

ATLANTA - NOVEMBER 05:  A face off between the Columbus Blue Jackets and the Atlanta Thrashers at Philips Arena on November 5, 2009 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

As someone who isn’t shy about making bold hockey moves, Brian Burke should be programming Columbus Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson’s phone number into his speed dial setting today.


Why now you ask?

Well, with the Jacket’s head coach Ken Hitchcock at odds with GM Howson on the playing time and development of blue-chip prospect Nikita Filatov–and news reports claiming Filatov could be headed back to Russia–Burke could have a shot (albeit a long one) at landing the supremely talented left-winger.


For anyone who has been paying attention, Hitchcock has basically nailed Filatov’s rear end to the bench (or the press box) for pretty much the entire year so far. 


On top of that, Filatov hasn’t been played in the right situations or been given any offensive opportunities (can you say 4th line) when he does get sent over the boards. 


Although the winger has tried to be strong on the puck and pay attention to his defensive responsibilities, he is clearly getting discouraged by the lack of support being shown from the coaching staff.


And while it’s still early in the season, not to mention Filatov’s NHL career, I honestly don’t envision Hitchcock ever taking full advantage of Filatov’s immense talent. 


This is where the Leafs come in.  As a team in rebuilding mode, landing a sniper and future superstar like Filatov would be huge. 


Can you imagine the Leafs first line next year with Phil Kessel, Filatov, and Nazem Kadri…now that’s a first line.


While the Leafs don’t have a lot to offer in way of a trade, they do have the one commodity that the Jackets desperately need – defensemen. 


As a team that prides itself on playing defense first, the Jackets are surprisingly thin on the blue line.  In Toronto, the Leafs, although the play and stats so far may have many thinking otherwise, are rich on the back end. 


I’m sure if names like Kaberle (who is not only attractive from playing perspective, but also on the cap front) or Schenn were floated, Howson would certainly be all ears on a potential deal for his disgruntled forward.


The Leafs need some pizzazz and Filatov is the ticket.  So what are you waiting for Burke, pick up the phone!