Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch recently reported Russian prospect Nikita Filatov returned to the team six weeks prior to training camp and expects to play this season in the NHL.
At 20-years-old Filatov still ranks as the top prospect in the system and sixth overall according to last year’s rankings, according to hockey’s future. With new coach Scott Arniel behind the bench, Filatov should avoid the problems he faced under defensive tyrant Ken Hitchcock.
Ryan Lambert of Puck Daddy believes Filatov will pot at least 25 goals this season and pointed out an interesting fact regarding his goals-per-minute production:
Hell, you wouldn’t know it from his NHL stats the past two seasons (21 games, six goals, no assists), but he scored pretty effectively here too. Those six goals came in just 170 minutes of ice time, because he averaged 8:07.5 per game, much to his own bewilderment. He had a better goals per 60 minutes last year than some fellow named Steven Stamkos. He led the league in that category the year before. And sure, sample size obviously comes into play there, but the point is that most NHL coaches would give a guy that scored a hat trick in his eighth-ever game more ice time the next night, but Hitchcock never did.
Great research, Ryan. Now we don’t need to explain why we love the kid and why we chalk him up on our sleeper lists. An added 14 pounds of muscle also never hurts.