Ottawa Senators general manager Bryan Murray revealed he had a face-to-face meeting with Nikita Filatov three days ago, as the Russian winger admitted he was not happy with playing in the American Hockey League.
The Senators GM acknowledged reports that Filatov would like to bolt to the KHL, rather than spend more time in Binghamton.
Murray said he told Filatov to wait until the Senators return from their current West Coast road trip before he makes any decisions. At that point they will have another meeting to discuss his future in the organization.
“I told him, ‘If you’re playing well, we will give you an opportunity to show your wares here,” Murray said Wednesday afternoon in Edmonton. “If by the end of November you’re not in the NHL, I will sit down and talk to you.
“Filatov has some concern about playing in Binghamton. He wants to be in the NHL obviously.”
The Red Army club in Moscow has expressed interest in signing Filatov. The negotiations have gone as far as Red Army general manager Sergei Nemchinov contacting Murray by telephone last week to ask his permission to sign Filatov.
Murray told Nemchinov that the Senators will be the ones who control Filatov’s fate.
“I told (Nemchinov) nothing can be done now. Let me have the time. I will decide when – if ever. I don’t know how he could have signed a deal,” Murray said. “The KHL honours NHL contracts and we honour theirs. So the option is not Filatov’s … it’s the Ottawa Senators’.”
The Senators acquired Filatov from Columbus on draft day in June, sending a third-round pick to the Blue Jackets in exchange for his services. Filatov came to camp with the expectation of being a top-six forward, but he struggled to produce, collecting just one assist in six games.
“The coaching staff here say they just want to see him compete a little more. Talent-wise, he can play in the NHL,” added Murray. “But it’s the other parts of the game – that don’t always include talent – that you have to do regularly. We’ve asked him to be a little more rounded.”
Filatov was dogged by rumours of being a malcontent in the Blue Jackets organization. But Murray said that despite his struggles in Ottawa, Filatov has been a pleasure to deal with and there is not a personality conflict between player and management.
“I think he’s a great kid. If you sit and talk to him, he’s a bright young man,” Murray said. “He seems willing to work hard and compete. Any practice I saw, I thought he practised fairly hard.”