Monday, June 20, 2011

Rumor: Nikita Filatov Available For Low Return; Worth Game For Rangers?

The ability to acquire talent is something that every team must consider when the opportunity presents itself.  On natural talent alone, few if any prospects in the game today can match Nikita Filatov of the Columbus Blue Jackets.  Filatov was selected 6th overall in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, but has failed to live up to the potential that made him be chosen that high over the past three years. 

The frustration with Filatov has gotten to the point where Aaron Portzline of The Columbus Dispatch speculated yesterday that Filatov could be had for as little as a fourth rounder or a middle-prospect.
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.
Filatov is not the first high pick to fail to make it from the Columbus organization and the question becomes whether the issue is with him or how they develop players.  The answer is probably that blame exists on both sides of that equation.  Should the Rangers take the gamble and deal for Filatov if he is available?

There is a reason that a player of Filatov's talent is potentially available at this kind of price and that is mainly about maturity and effort concerns.  When you are the Rangers and the identity of your team is built around effort, it is certainly an issue because Filatove could quickly end up on the bad side of coach John Tortorella.  The other side of that equation however is the price tag that Portzline is speculating, which makes the gamble that it could work intriguing.  While he does not fit the mold of players the Rangers have shaped the team around and there are questions as to whether he can make it in the NHL, if you can trade from the massive defensive depth in the minors to acquire a talent like this, then the gamble is something worth doing.

A deal for Filatov would allow the Rangers to bring in a first round talent, at wholesale prices, and hope that their system is able to get the most out of the talent.  This is not trading a young, solid defender for Zherdev from a few years ago, but it is somewhat similar to dealing for Wolski as the discount price made the potential reward very intriguing.  There is no talk of giving up a piece that likely ever makes it in the NHL for the Rangers.  Trading from a position of strength, like the Rangers defensive prospects, in order to gamble on elite forward talent, which the organization lacks, is a smart move.  The comparison between the upside and downside to a move like this is a no brainer as while Filatov may has holes in his game, and may never reach his potential, the reward far outweighs what the team is risking.