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Nikita Filatov (Shown Celebrating)Not since the likes of one Zigmund Palffy have I been more excited or intrigued by a player like Filatov. It’s not because he is the next Russian sensation – (although it helps), but it’s because of the way he makes skating and other hockey skills appear natural and free-flowing. Everything I have heard of Filatov, I have liked. He is well versed in English, has a desire for the game and appears to be successful at being a well rounded player. The most important part, he wants to play in North America.

Past Russian picks have slipped (See; Cherepanov last season) due in part because of a lack of a Russian transfer-agreement. One doesn’t have to look far at what the lack of a transfer agreement can cause – Alex Ovechkin and what the Capitals went through to get him into the states is one such case. Filatov’s openness about wanting to come to North America helps ease these fears.

There is a real possibility that Filatov will still be available when the Islanders are set to pick in the first round at the fifth position. The top ten picks are mostly made up of big, franchise type defensemen who teams are just drooling over (Isles included), but my hope is that Garth Snow uses his pick on Filatov because of the severe lack of offense.

Something that makes me feel the Islanders are leaning that way, apparently Nikita Filatov has been blogging about his experiences at the NHL Draft Combine in Toronto. The Islanders are listed as one of the main teams interested in him. He actually goes on to speak very highly of the organization and how he thinks it will be his fastest route to the NHL now that the Islanders are in full rebuild mode.

Here is an excerpt from the website (with full credit going to HFBoards member Belarus for translating and posting a link to the blog):

Perhaps the Islanders

The last day in Canada has passed in the company of Toronto’s representatives. I spoke to their scouts, which was a good talk, informal, the way I like.

Seems like the quartet of the clubs where I may wind up has been set. They are the Islanders, Columbus, Toronto and Phoenix. I have mentioned before to me there is no difference where I wind up in the NHL. It’s a privilege to play for any of these teams. Why I’ve determined that these franchises have the best chances of landing me? I’ve heard others were looking for defensemen, and these clubs would be fighting for forwards.

I would not regret if I am picked at 8 by Coyotes or at 5 by the Islanders. Though I’m ready for anything, as draft is unpredictable thing, and you may be traded right during the ceremony.

You may be surprised that I’ll be glad to go to a team that will not be a contender in the nearest future. The thing is it is easier to crack the line up on the team without superstars. For instance the Islanders are considered as underdog, but everything can change. Look at the Washington or Pittsburgh.

Overall, the Islanders is not a bad option. As far as I know there are no problems with the owner, the coach stays and they probably will play youngsters more as they let some veterans go. And to play in New York is better that to play in the city where hockey is not the main thing. Always full house, always interest for the game of hockey. It is possible I’ll spend one season in the minors. I’m not afraid of it. I know my shortcomings and will be working on them to be able to play for the main team in the next season.

Here is a link to the Russian website, for the non-believers – complete with a picture of Sparky skating across center ice at the Coliseum!

It is the small stuff like this that really makes me excited, especially knowing that I will be inside the very building (with press access to boot) as the Islanders make their selection. I really believe Garth Snow has a plan and will execute it the best he can come draft day. I know there are naysayers, but you know what – the table is set and we need to see how everything is played out.