The Nikita Filatov Saga is finally over. Nay Sayers who doubted Filatov’s ability to get himself to North America are now hushed. Jackets nation, myself included, all had it in the back of our minds. We’ve suffered so many blows and setbacks; from lack-luster first-rounders (see: Brule, A Picard, Klesla…) to season-hindering injuries (Modin).
Are the Columbus faithful finally about to be rewarded for our years of torment? On a wing and a prayer, I’m saying yes. Columbus is in the best position that we have ever been in – we have true depth at forward, defense, and goal, a coach and GM who are on the same page, and we have real elite prospect talent in the system.
With the loss of enigmatic Nikolai Zherdev, Columbus fans are ready to give their hearts to a new kid out of mother Russia – Nikita Filatov. Of course, time will tell with Nikita – will we make the big club out of training camp, will he play in the AHL, hell, he could even be headed for Sudburry to play in the OHL.
The one thing that we know will hold true though is that this kid can play, and he seems to have the drive that we’ve always been looking for in our Russians. Everyone knows that Nikita can play, if you don’t believe me then check out his youtube videos. What has got me all in a dither is his attitude and drive to play the game. Take this beauty:
"I'm prepared to do whatever Columbus asks me to do and if that means playing juniors for a year, I will do that," he said. "I realize I just have to get stronger and bigger and I think I'll be ready." ~ Nikita Filatov
This kid has never wavered on his commitment to come to the North America and play in the greatest league in the world. Columbus GM Scott Howson picked up on this at the draft combine where he (along with about every other GM) spoke with Filatov in the interview sessions.
Still, as convinced as he was, you can still hear the collective sigh of relief that Filatov is breathing in the sweet air of freedom in North America: "We're glad Nikita is here," general manager Scott Howson said. "He has been committed to this all along, since we drafted him.
He said all along that he wants to play in the NHL.” Expect the no. 28 CBJ jerseys to start flying off the shelves of the Blueline in Nationwide Arena once we get a taste of this kid in the preseason.
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