Impressive and inspired move by Ottawa GM Bryan Murray today to steal former 6th overall pick Nikita Filatov from the Blue Jackets for a third rounder.
The infusion of skill into the organization at the forward position the past few days is mind-blowing, even if most of it won't be on display for at least a couple of seasons.
But that's where Filatov can ease some pain. If he's going to pay off, it will likely start this coming season where he'll probably get a chance to skate on one of the top two lines in the early going, a role that Murray tried to fill cheaply with his late-season pickup of Marek Svatos from the Nashville Predators, a good idea that didn't exactly pan out. Filatov is an upgrade on Svatos, or at least on potential alone and he comes with a cap hit of just over 2 million, most of that made up of bonuses.
And the kid is just 21. It's no surprise that Filatov didn't excel in the Columbus organization after such high hopes because that's commonplace down there. They give up on young players better than any team in the league over the past ten years and Filatov is just the latest.
Give Filatov a centre (like Jason Spezza) and he's going to score some goals. He's too talented not to. I've already heard the Alexei Kovalev comparisons, but that's just an easy out to try and describe the young Russian. Yes, they're both skilled and they're both Russian. That's where the comparisons should end. Kovalev is a species unto himself. In order to find someone similar, you have to read Dostoevsky or Gogol instead of pointing at any Russian kid who can stickhandle through a Cribbage board.
Just two seasons ago, Filatov was coming off three successive World Junior tournaments where he was consistently one of the best players from any country. He can also speak English better than a lot of people in the Ottawa Valley and seems to have a bit of an outspoken and stubborn personality that will either serve him well or tear him down in the eyes of many.
The short story is Bryan Murray made a very low-risk move picking up the talented Russian because he had already drafted three skilled forwards with huge upside on Friday night. Filatov is a player who can help right away if he takes his second chance in the NHL seriously enough.
Could you imagine the ramifications of this deal if Filatov actually lives up to his status as a top-ten pick?
Even if Filatov can score 50 points in one of the next two seasons, this trade will have paid off ten times over.
I'm still shaking my head at the thought of it.