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Filatov: 'It's a new time now and a new team'

by Rob Brodie / Ottawa Senators
Senators forward Nikita Filatov listens to questions from the media on his first day at Scotiabank Place since being obtained in a draft-day trade with the Columbus Blue Jackets (Ottawa Senators Hockey Club).

A new day has dawned for Nikita Filatov and he couldn't be happier about it.

"I'm just excited for a new start," the 21-year-old Moscow native said earlier today after arriving in Ottawa for Senators development camp at Scotiabank Place. "I just learned a lot from my mistakes before. I kind of know what to do better what to improve and how not to make other mistakes.”

Filatov, the sixth overall pick in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, was obtained from the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday at this year's draft in St. Paul, Minn. The Senators surrendered only a third-round pick, an indication of how much Filatov's stock had dropped in the eyes of the Blue Jackets organization. He's anxious to start rebuilding his image and his game in Ottawa.

"I don't want to really say anything about Columbus," Filatov told a horde of media today. "It's a new time now, a new team and just new thoughts. It was just three years for me in North America and a good experience for me, and lots ot things were up and down. But I'm not thinking about that anymore."

"It’s a new opportunity, so I’m not really thinking about what happened before. I just still feel ambitions and confident. I’m just ready to go and prove I know what to do now.”

Ottawa fans might remember Filatov as an 18-year-old who was the brightest of lights for Russia at the 2009 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship, with his offensive talents on full display in the nation's capital. The Senators believe if they can mine those gifts fully, Filatov could fill a vital role on one of their top two lines next season.

"He brings a high skill set," said Senators assistant general manager Tim Murray. "He was drafted sixth overall for a reason and, for multiple reasons, it didn’t work out in Columbus. To us, it was a no-brainer to bring the guy in, give him a little bit of a new shot at a different atmosphere … and get him to play up to his expectations.

"We’ve been talking about him since the season was over. You look at players that may be a fit for you, whether it’s financially or he’s not a fit in (another team's) organization. And he was at the top of that list. We figured there was a chance that (Columbus) might be just done with him. They’d tried for a couple of years and it hadn’t worked, so he was at the top of that list of guys that we felt wouldn’t be expensive, wouldn’t be a big price to pay and has a lot of upside."

Filatov spent a chunk of his two seasons with the Blue Jackets organization in the American Hockey League and was loaned to the Kontinental Hockey League's CSKA Moscow for the final 26 games of the 2009-10 season. An undisclosed groin injury also slowed him last season. Had Columbus been unable to deal him at the draft, Filatov might have been headed back home to Russia.

"I don't want to put words in his mouth, but I believe he wasn't going back (to Columbus)," Murray said of Filatov, who has one year remaining on his entry-level contract. "I believe he was going back to Russia. He wasn't going to play in their American league system and ... that's why we started to talk about him internally.

"They were getting a third (round pick) or they weren't trading him and that probably would have been the end of him over here, at least for some time."

He was vacationing with his family in the Dominican Republic when Filatov turned on his computer and learned his Columbus odyssey was over, and that he'd be heading to hockey-mad Canada to continue his career. More specifically, to the same city and building where he was drafted into the National Hockey League three years ago.

"I was so thankful," he said. "I couldn't say I really believed I was going to get traded, so I was excited. I didn't really care where I was going to be traded but when I found out it was Ottawa, I was happy because first of all, it's Canada, and right away I thought there was going to be a pretty good chance to make the team here ... it's the fans, the passion (for hockey) and everything."

Now it's up to Filatov to make his new hockey home a happy one.

"He's been promised if he works hard, we'll give him every opportunity," said Murray. "That’s all he has been promised. Come in here, work hard, show the guys that are here that maybe a lot of the stuff that’s been said about him isn’t true. That he is a young guy who has the ability to play in the National Hockey League. Come in here, work hard and prove yourself and good things will happen."

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