Valeri and Nikita

That’s Valeri Kharlamov following the flight of the puck while trying to disengage from New York Ranger Carol Vadnais (the arm of #18 is also in view, that would be Walt Tkaczuk and I believe the goalie is John Davidson based on height and that would mean this photo is 1975-76).

For old guys like me, Kharlamov is the one we remember. He was a beauty player, fluid and creative, fast and furious and for all kinds of reasons he stood out when no man on the red team was known to any of us that fateful month 36 long years ago.

The Russians are still in many ways a mystery. My children think it’s a cold place where men with hideous furry hats walk uphill both ways to the Kremlin and the kids listen to pop songs with titles like “I Hurt Myself Picking Up Heavy Things.”

Come to think of it, not much has changed over the years.

We have come to realize that Russian hockey players come in as many varieties as our own: brave men with grit, skilled ones with little taste for the rough stuff, some leaders and some bleeders.

I can say without a doubt that many of my favorite hockey players over the last 20 years come from Russia, but Kharlamov has a special place for me and many Canadians who sat down to a hockey game one night and instead received a body blow.
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Word today from the Journal that the Oilers are aware of Nikita Filatov. Quoting the paper “The Oilers talked to phenomenal Russian forward Nikita Filatov on Monday, among other teams, although they have little shot at him unless they can trade into the top five. Filatov speaks good English and will likely be playing junior in Sudbury next winter because they have the first pick in the Canadian Hockey League import draft.”

This is a wonderful 2-sentence item that can fill all kinds of hours during a long spring. It brings up countless questions (“ARE the Oilers going to finally trade up during the Lowe regime?” and “who WAS the last really good Russian drafted by Edmonton?” and “who would they give up in a deal?”) and since we have a month let’s talk about it.

Filatov is listed at 6-0, 165 in the Hockey News Draft Issue and is ranked by ISS and Redline Report as the #2 prospect available in this draft. Scouts say he could be the most skilled player available and his performance at the World Juniors (7gp, 4-5-9) was impressive enough to move him up the draft charts. Filatov says “I think that my main strengths are my speed, my capacity to see the open guys on the ice and my passing.”

  1. Are the Oilers finally going to trade up during the Lowe regime? Kevin Lowe has moved back the median age of this team with baffling consistency and making a big move up at the draft (without dumping massive salary that can be used to attract sufficient replacements) means more time outside the second season. If he can unload extra parts and his own first round pick in order to move up to the slot where Filatov is available then it’s a no-brainer. Having said that, it seems very unlikely.
  2. Have the Oilers drafted Russians recently? Trukhno is the best of the current prospects from the USSR. The Oilers drafted him out of the Q and with Filatov coming over to play in Canada it may make him more attractive to Edmonton’s procurement group. Ales Hemsky, though a Czech, would also fall into this category and Alexei Semenov is also in the group. I think we can agree that Filatov’s being in the CHL and not in Russia puts him on the prospect map for the Oilers.
  3. Who was the last really good Russian drafted by Edmonton? Does Anatoli Semenov qualify? That was 1989.
  4. Who would they give up in the deal? The Oilers would have to trade up 17 slots or so, and that means a lot of assets. Remember this is a very deep draft we’re talking about here. The number one target would probably be Toronto since the Leafs will abandon the draft like they always do (I’d bet money on it) let’s talk about what they might need. GM Cliff Fletcher has publicly stated that a half dozen changes will be needed this summer and the specific areas of need include a team that can take on salary (or at least give expensive players of value in exchange for expensive players of lesser value), at least a couple of good NHL forwards and more help (under 5M) on the blueline. Among the players the Oilers might want to send away are forwards Jarret Stoll, Raffi Torres and Ethan Moreau. Toronto might ask after someone like Andrew Cogliano or Denis Grebeshkov. I can’t see Edmonton getting that far up the draft day list without giving up a very good, young and inexpensive asset already helping at the NHL level.
  5. How many assets would be enough? I think the Oilers would have to be willing to deal a very valuable young NHL player plus a veteran forward and the pick at 22 to make it all the way up to the top 5. Or deal a very good young NHL player and the #22 pick for an expensive veteran who is overpriced and the higher pick. Is that fair? In the range? I don’t think there’s a 10% chance of this happening.

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27 Responses to "Valeri and Nikita"

  1. Jonathan says:

    I think the Oilers would have to be willing to deal a very valuable young NHL player plus a veteran forward and the pick at 22 to make it all the way up to the top 5. Or deal a very good young NHL player and the #22 pick for an expensive veteran who is overpriced and the higher pick. Is that fair? In the range? I don’t think there’s a 10% chance of this happening.

    I tend to agree with you, but like you said it’s summer, so let me throw this out there:

    Rob Schremp, Matt Greene + 22nd pick for Mark Bell and the 7th pick

    I think if there’s any way this deal happens, Rob Schremp is the key- either going the other way, or taking someone’s spot on the roster.

  2. Scott says:

    Unless we have more details about the nature of their conversations, I would assume this is just due diligence. The scouts are pretty thorough, so I doubt they want to have any missing information *should* a deal come up.

    That said, although Lowe seems to go hunting for the “move up” deal each year, I think this year is even more unlikely that it will come to fruition.

    I like the move up to get Riley Nash last year, though. I’m hoping for a move up to get somebody who drops to the 15 range (Del Zotto maybe?). Attempts to move up in the past have been made at good players (unlike moves down…), but hoping for a top 5 player is a little ambitious.

  3. Lowetide says:

    jonathan: I think it might be more along the lines of Cogliano and #22. If a team like Toronto is going to sell a deal that takes them outside the area where elite players are selected then they need to address need and sell hope. I don’t think EDM should or would do that deal but Cogliano or another really good young NHL player would be a likely asking price.

    I also agree that if a young forward gets sent away it’ll open up some room for a young player. One would think Schremp would be in the mix.

  4. danny says:

    LT, to steal your poker analogy for a second… lets revisit the Crosby draft and call him pocket Aces.

    The next four forwards taken in that draft, at slots #2,4,6,8 are Bobby Ryan, Benoit Pouliot, Gilbert Brule and Devin Setoguchi.

    Their cap hits are, 1.92M, 1.7M, 1.25M, 1.25M. I’d assume the top 8 picks get higher cap hits this draft maybe? if its linked to the cap that is?

    The best of the bunch is probably Setoguchi right now. I’d imagine hes probably going to be a 35 goal scorer ceiling, after his development time is punched… and probably get about $3M minimum on his next contract. WHat is he in terms of poker hands… 99 ? a solid hand.

    The draft promises you a strong starting hand. You intermittently get your AA’s, KK’s that are no brainers but the normal drafts are usually AK, AQ, AJ. They have potential but thats exactly what they are… potential.

    Which brings me to my point… I think its maybe a good idea for Lowe to be on the poach for another early twenties Setoguchi type. (penner?) Give up his 22nd pick, instead of trading a bunch for an AJ. We would add about $3.5M in cap hit by signing a 25+ goal scoring forward, instead of gambling with your AJ and paying him upwards of $2M to develop.

    If Lowe can surrender his 1st/2nd/3rd for a solid roster player at $5.5M, then that also gives him leeway to flip Torres or Stoll for a 2nd + a 3rd, and recoup the cap space.

    The draft is sexy I know, but once you make that pick, you’re at the mercy of the flop… and if you dont hit your ace or king, you’re at a huge disadvantage to the guy that enters the fray with his pocket 9s

  5. Lowetide says:

    danny: I agree that Lowe should be looking at adding NHL players this summer. Specifically a reliable defender and if they don’t sign Glencross then someone who is injury insurance on LW.

    The one thing I don’t think they should be doing is taking away NHL players from the current roster in exchange for picks who will take awhile to develop.

    Oilers are young enough already.

  6. Easilee says:

    First time caller, long time listener.

    Anyway I have been daydreaming about aquiring Filatov for a while now, and this little glimmer of hope has me even more excited. Moving up into the top ten in the draft and drafting a Russian are about as against the grain as you could imagine for this organization,and the proposal might ruffle some feathers in this part of town, but what the heck:

    Taylor Chorney, Ladislav Smid, Rob Schremp, and a conditional pick (either #22 this year, and a second next year, or a First Rounder next year L.A’s choice depending on players available at #22) to Los Angeles for #2 overall and Mike Cammalleri

  7. HBomb says:

    Taylor Chorney, Ladislav Smid, Rob Schremp, and a conditional pick (either #22 this year, and a second next year, or a First Rounder next year L.A’s choice depending on players available at #22) to Los Angeles for #2 overall and Mike Cammalleri

    That package won’t get you the 2nd overall on it’s own, let alone Cammalleri.

  8. Easilee says:

    Probably not, for some reason I undervalue Cammalleri, but is that package a starting point to getting into the top 7 without hurting the nucleus?

  9. Shawn says:

    I saw Filatov bad… at the World Jr A Challenge in Trail I was uninspired by his play. He just didn’t stand out. For a supposed superstar playing against top Junior A talent — not even at the World Juniors — he didn’t stand out. That struck me.

  10. Ribs says:

    If I were Kevin Lowe, I’d throw Robert Nilsson into the mix here. I’m not really convinced of his staying power just yet and he might be a bit more valuable to some other team out there than he is to the Oilers (especially now that he is signed).

    If they could throw something together to move up enough to snag Filatov, they should probably do it. This seems like a year with a few more sure things than most.

  11. jon k says:

    Filatov is a player to get. Skilled, motivated, and intelligent. Cost might be a substantial part of Pitkanen’s value though.

  12. Asiaoil says:

    I agree with you LT – if TOR is the target then Cogs is the bait. You know how much I like the kid as far back as his first WJC. It pains me to consider trading him but with Nilsson and Gagner already in the top 6 – I see another under-sized young guy like Cogliano as redundant. Otherwise we drop him into the 3rd line center slot – but again too small and really too talented. The kid is also from Toronto and getting him would be damn good PR for the new regime.

    Cogs and #22 for #5?

  13. Jeremy says:

    What about Pikanen instead of Cogs? I love Joni, but if a reasonable contract is not in the cards then I say that a trade with Tor, or Columbus would be more beneficial than say, the Rangers’ spare parts for example. As an RFA he would have tome cache, and those aforementioned teams would be able to negotiate with him then. BTW, love the blog.

  14. Jonathan says:

    I think it might be more along the lines of Cogliano and #22

    I suppose it would be pretty unlikely that the Leafs would take anything less. Last year, For the Sharks traded #13, #44, and a 3rd rounder in 2008 for the #9 pick. Four slots in a relatively deep draft.

  15. Big T says:

    I know Kaberle has said no in the past but is there any chance he’d waive his NTC to make this possible;

    To Edmonton
    - Kaberle, 1st rnd pick (5,7 – whatever)

    To Toronto
    - Pitkanen, 1st rnd pick (22)

    Perhaps Bell and Stoll need to be in that deal to make it work.

    Thoughts?

    T

  16. eyebleaf says:

    care to make a wager that the leafs keep their 7th pick and actually draft a player this year?

    how about $50? payable via paypal?

    holla atcha boy.

  17. Rick says:

    Why would the price go up in a deep draft in terms of trading up for picks?

    Wouldn’t it be the opposite?

    I would expect to pay a higher price in a shallow draft in order to get one of the few bluechippers available.

    However if this draft year is as deep as I understand it to be then there may very well be bluechippers available in the bottom half of the first round as well. So wouldn’t trading first rounders bring down the cost of the add on’s needed to complete the trade?

    You know, that whole supply VS demand thing.

    With that out of the way, I would look at sending Cogliano and Torres to Toronto if it would get the deal done. As mentioned the discussion probably starts with Cogliano and considering it’s common opinion that Torres may have lost his position here, he could be a nice add on from Toronto’s perspective. He is an older young guy here but still a baby when comapred to the rest Leafs roster. Hell I would throw in Schremp just to get him out of the oprganization so we can stop hearing about how our saviour is baing wasted in the minors.

    I am still not sure what can be expected from Filatov though. Are we just being seduced by press clippings or is this guy the real deal? For example if this draft wasn’t so deep would he have been a first overall pick? Sort of like Malkin was to Ovechkin. Or is he just a talented guy that may or may not be what your hoping for like Cherepanov or dare I say Schremp?

    If he is the real deal then the Oilers may not even be taking a step back by letting Cogliano go in order to get him.

  18. Jonathan says:

    To Edmonton
    - Kaberle, 1st rnd pick (5,7 – whatever)

    To Toronto
    - Pitkanen, 1st rnd pick (22)

    Perhaps Bell and Stoll need to be in that deal to make it work.

    I’m sorry- I think this is my fault. That Schremp and Greene deal made everyone optimistic.

    For those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about, why would Toronto downgrade on defense to have the privelege of dropping 15 spots in the draft?

  19. goldenchild says:

    The Schremph Army is on Terror Alert level Orange today due to Brownlee’s comments yesterday that he can’t see Robbie being an Oiler past the draft.

    The Oilers clearly have some extra pieces at forward they could move but lets hope its a quantity for a quality NHL player deal rather than draft picks. There is enough ‘potential’ on this team they need some guys who deliver NHL results. I would rather see Schremp moved for a prospect of similar age who is a better fit in EDM, ie wider range of skills, than for a pick.

  20. Big T says:

    Jonathan;

    I agree that it is a downgrade on defense from the Leafs point of view, but not that they think that it would be. They did try to get rid of Kaberle in a salary dump at the deadline.

    The leafs get a quality defenseman who – in their view – may have a higher upside than their current player and is younger. I’m not here to argue that it’s a good deal for them, just that they may take it in their infinite wisdom.

    Surely their track record makes this a possibility.

    T

  21. jd says:

    The Oil are finally in a position where they have a B+ crop of assets and i really hope they hold on to them. We’ve never really dealt from the strength of depth and what Lowe decides to do with this over the next year or two will really prove his ability as a GM.

  22. Coach pb9617 says:

    The Schremph Army is on Terror Alert level Orange today due to Brownlee’s comments yesterday that he can’t see Robbie being an Oiler past the draft.

    I take delight in their horror.

  23. namflashback says:

    jd, i disagree. The benefit of having a good pool of prospects doesn’t matter squat if the goal is:

    08-09 — get a playoff round
    09-10 — be consistently competitive, option to go for it
    10-11 — go for it

    So, the next wave of propsect need to be able to make the leap to the NHL in 11-12. Schremp, Pouliot, Jaqcues will be past their prime time (for opportunity).

    Schremp’s chance with this team were greatly reduced when three events occurred:
    - injury
    - Nillson was traded to the team
    - Gagner and Cogliano outplayed him in camp

    He does not fit into their window of opportunity with this group.

  24. Dennis says:

    I don’t think it’s officially spring until Jim Matheson gets suckered into his annual “Lowe’s gonna try and move up in the draft” tidbit/article.

    Of course I could tie in LT responding to said “promise”:) but that’s not fair to Lain. Wait, didn’t he believe in the Pronger package?:)

    BTW, anyone see where the Flyers are dangling a young forward in return for a young dman who could move the puck? Guys rumored to be on the move: Upshall and…….Lupul!!!

  25. PPP says:

    I agree that it is a downgrade on defense from the Leafs point of view, but not that they think that it would be. They did try to get rid of Kaberle in a salary dump at the deadline.

    They tried to move Kaberle for Jeff Carter and a pick which is much better than Joni Pitkanen.

    With that out of the way, I would look at sending Cogliano and Torres to Toronto if it would get the deal done. As mentioned the discussion probably starts with Cogliano and considering it’s common opinion that Torres may have lost his position here, he could be a nice add on from Toronto’s perspective. He is an older young guy here but still a baby when compared to the rest Leafs roster.

    I am probably being just as optimistic as others here but toss in the 22nd pick and that would be a deal that the Leafs could sell the fans. But it would have to be a pretty big deal to get the Leafs to move that pick.

    The Leafs’ roster isn’t actually that old (middle of the road in average ages) and it’ll get younger (Uncle Cliff willing) and a guy like Torres, from what I’ve seen and read, would be a good addition to the locker room.

  26. Dennis says:

    I would just like to jump in and say that whatever Lowe’s planning, I’d rather see an Orpik or a Stuart here come Sept then another forward.

    77: he’s gotten paid
    44: unmoveable
    24: not easy to move
    25: doubtful we’d get good value so we should hang on.
    37: do we bother to keep him and risk losing him for nothing if the new RSL has already piqued his interest?
    2 and 5: deal one of them for picks.

    So, I’d keep that top four, I’d deal off 37 if he’s about to Morozov us, keep Smid and then deal off Greene and bring in a vet on the backend.

  27. Lowetide says:

    Dennis: That seems about right.

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