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Nikita Filatov Leaves NHL, Heads Back to Russia

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After being the sixth pick overall in the 2008 entry draft, and playing well at the AHL level, expectations on winger Nikita Filatov of the Columbus Blue Jackets were high. After turning over the puck several times a game, only scoring twice, and getting several bad penalties, it is clear that the expectations have not been met.

Coach Ken Hitchcock and his crew have worked on getting Filatov to play well. They have scratched him, given him extra practice, and generally eased him along. While they have not given him lots of ice time, they have given him everything else that they could. Apparently, this was not working.

As a result of this, Filatov will be heading back home to Russia to play for CSKA Moscow of the KHL for the rest of this season. While this might seem bad for the Jackets, this might be the best of both worlds. Nikita is obviously frustrated with his lack of playing time but didn't want to go play for the Jacket's AHL affiliate. By heading to Russia, he should get plenty of ice time and work on his abilities on both ends of the ice. When (if) he comes back for training camp next season, Filatov should fit much better into the second line role that Hitchcock has planned for him.

The deal between the Columbus Blue Jackets and CSKA Moscow is a one-year loan agreement. This means that Filatov should be back next season. Jackets fans still have hope, as Filatov stated that he is "not mad at anybody here. Nothing has changed. My dream is still to play in the NHL." Even if he doesn't come back, the Jackets will own all North American rights until the 2017 season.

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