COLUMBUS OH - SEPTEMBER 28: Nikita Filatov #28 of the Columbus Blue Jackets is congratulated by teammate Tomas Kubalik #33 of the Columbus Blue Jackets after scoring against the Minnesota Wild during the second peirod on September 28 2010 at Nationwide Arena in Columbus Ohio. (Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images)
Rumors and the off-season go hand in hand, especially when you're dealing with a big market team like the New York Rangers. One of the rumors that was especially prevalent last off-season, and even into the regular season, was the New York Rangers targeting Nikita Filatov.
Filatov, the 6th overall pick of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, has spent two lackluster seasons in Columbus and it appears like he might be on his way out. While rumors about him being on the trading block last year were all speculation, this year is a completely different story.
And then there's Nikita Filatov, who is quickly running out of time to prove his NHL worthiness. If the right offer is made - a fourth-round draft pick, a middling prospect or an aged veteran - Filatov will be sent packing.
Could it really be that simple to acquire a 21-year-old top-flight prospect? Yes, Filatov has had three unconvincing years in Columbus thus far after reportedly clashing with the Blue Jackets' brass. But he is certainly worth the risk.
Join me after the jump for more.
In his short NHL career, Filatov has played in 44 games registering six goals and seven assists for 13 points. While the numbers aren't overwhelming, Filatov is a prospect with a significant amount of upside.
He put up nearly a point-per-game in the KHL as a 20-year-old, during a loan to Moscow, and has offensive tools and talent that have other teams' scouting departments drooling. Obviously he has worn out his welcome in Columbus, maybe he just needs a change of scenery.
John Tortorella and Glen Sather have made it a priority to infuse youth into the team the past few years. What better way to do that then by swinging a deal for Filatov?
The Rangers certainly have the assets in the farm system. Under the requirements set forth by Portzline all the Rangers would need to do is ship off a mid-round pick and a decent prospect. No, Chris Drury (even if he waived his MVC and was deemed healthy before the trade) would not apply here.
But the Rangers do have players in the minors who seem to have undefined roles. Especially after the acquisition of Tim Erixon, and with guys like Dylan McIlrath waiting in the wings, there is a logjam at defense for the Rangers. Perhaps prospects like Jyri Niemi, Tomas Kundratek or Pavel Valentenko are suddenly more expendable.
If Sather could pull off a mid-round pick and one of the expendable defensive prospects listed above the move is a no brainer. Filatov represents a tremendous risk, but at the price it would cost to get him it's a move to make seven days a week and twice on Sunday. The Rangers would get another top-flight prospect from another team (on top of Ryan McDonagh and Tim Erixon) for pennies on the dollar.
Filatov would have a strong chance to make the team out of camp, and wouldn't need to be rushed to make an instant impact. The Rangers could easily lean on guys like Ryan Callahan, Brandon Dubinsky, Derek Stepan and Artem Anisimov for secondary scoring. Marian Gaborik and whomever the Rangers acquire this off-season as a number one center can handle the primary scoring, allowing Folatov to find his comfort zone and develop properly.
Anyway, a lot of this is still just speculation, but it appears that Filatov is actually on the trading block, and the Rangers should make a run at him.