UPDATE: Dmitry Chesnokov has spoken today on the Team 1200′s Healthy Scratches, in defense of his friend Nikita Filatov. I for one believe much of what Dmitry has had to say, because honestly, it makes sense.
The jist of the interview is that Filatov, still a bit shell shocked from his experience in Columbus, came to Ottawa believing he was going to have a real chance to prove himself, and finally EARN an NHL roster spot. After having been sent down, the second time, he began to feel (rightly or wrongly) that it was going to be Columbus all over again, and has reacted as such in discussing a return to Russia. Dmitry believes, wholeheartedly, Filatov does NOT want to go to Russia, but is just afraid that he has no real opportunity to make the NHL, so, in his own best interests, would be better served returning to Russia. This all dovetails with what Murray had to say on the subject.
I guess, at the end of the day, two questions remain;
1. Did Filatov get a real chance to earn an NHL spot, or is he just the victim of being signed to a team with too many one-way deals in the forward ranks?
2. Has Filatov really even earned a spot on the team, or is his playing in the AHL an accurate reflection on his current abilities, and should he improve, he will get another opportunity to break into the NHL.
In other words, is this a cap issue, or a performance issue? I have taken issue with his useage in the past, so I am at least sympathetic to Filatovs worries, even if I’m not entirely prepared to call them legitimate.
I, for one, will no longer blog on this topic, because I believe it should have never gone public, and a young mans career may be left at the mercy of internet conjecture, and opinion, based upon little or no real information, of which I do not wish to be a part of. I would encourage the rest of us fans to just let this one slink back into the bushes, and let the two sides play it out in private, trusting that the best outcome will prevail.
So, with that, I say to Nikki, work your ass off, make it impossible for anyone to question your NHL readiness, we fans will demand you be here, we will be your best “leverage”, not a threat to return to the KHL.
And to team management I say either cut this kid loose now, and seal the wound before it worsens, or make sure this kid isn’t thinking wrong thoughts and feeling forced to make a decision he doesn’t really need to make.
I think it is fair to assume that Filatov, a young man in his final contract year, after coming out of a bad situation, is afraid of finding himself the victim of a cap crunch. Think about it, if he gets injured playing in the AHL, he’s done, no contract, and no reputation to build on should he come back to the game…I’d be worried too.