Can Nikita Filatov become the next low-risk, high-reward success story?

On draft day 2011, Bryan Murray worked all kinds of magic at the draft table. In addition to picking three strong prospects in the first round (Mika Zibanejad, Stefan Noesen and Matt Puempel), Murray grabbed another high end talent...with his third-round pick.

By grabbing Nikita Filatov from The Columbus Blue Jackets, Bryan Murray set up an ideal situation for himself. Either Nikita lives up to his 6th overall selection potential and becomes an absolute steal, or he plays even moderately better than most third round picks, and the trade is still a win.

Now, this sort of thing isn't common in the NHL, but it happens from time to time. A team will give up on a first round talent for one reason or another, and will let them go, only for another team to swoop in and pick them up for next to nothing. As you will see in a moment, some of these are huge success stories, while with others, the verdict is still out.


Michael Grabner

#40 / Right Wing / New York Islanders



Oct 05, 1987

2010 - Michael Grabner 76 34 18 52 13 10 2 6 3 228

Obviously, Michael Grabner makes this list as a huge success story for the New York Islanders. Originally drafted 14th overall by the Vancouver Canucks in 2006, he bounced between the AHL and NHL before being traded with Steve Bernier and a first round pick to the Florida Panthers for Keith Ballard and Victor Oreskovich. However, failing to make the Panthers out of training camp (SERIOUSLY), he was placed on waivers so he could head to the AHL. The Islanders swooped in and grabbed him (no pun intended). The rest of course is history. Grabner was a man possessed last season after being picked up, and would have won the Calder if not for impressive seasons from Jeff Skinner and Logan Couture. This is probably the high end of what we could expect from Filatov, with most people agreeing he will score far fewer than 34 times. However, nobody predicted Grabner would do it when he was plucked off waivers!

Gilbert Brule

#67 / Center / Edmonton Oilers



Jan 01, 1987

2010 - Gilbert Brule 41 7 2 9 -7 41 1 0 1 72

Gilbert Brule makes this list to balance out the huge success represented by Michael Grabner and others. This former WHL playoff MVP was drafted 6th overall in 2005 by the Columbus Blue Jackets. (Side note: they are terrible with developing players, aren't they?). He made their team out of training camp in his first pro camp, but after a couple injuries was returned to junior. After a decent rookie season, in which he got mostly fourth line minutes, Brule had a terrible second season, and was sent to the AHL. That summer, he was traded for Raffi Torres (at the time a salary dump) to the Edmonton Oilers. Since joining the Oilers, he had one good season: 2009-2010, in which he scored 17 goals and added 20 assists. The following year, he had trouble once again with injuries, and never got to a level where he was effective. Here's hoping we get better than this out of Nikita, however 37 points wouldn't be so bad!

Brian Boyle

#22 / Center / New York Rangers



Dec 18, 1984

2010 - Brian Boyle 82 21 14 35 2 74 4 1 2 218

Brian Boyle may not have the hype that someone like Filatov has, but he was still taken as the 26th overall pick in 2003 by the Los Angeles Kings. After going the College route, Boyle bounced around between the NHL and AHL in the Kings organization, never really finding a place in their lineup. After once again spending the majority of the season in the AHL in 2008-2009, he was traded to the Rangers at the draft in 2009 for a third round pick (sound familiar?). After a season where he didn't do much in the way of offence in 2009-2010, Boyle exploded for 21 goals in 2010-2011, playing primarily with the offensive talents of Brandon Prust. A late bloomer, Boyle looks like a steal for a third rounder. 

Kari Lehtonen

#32 / Goalie / Dallas Stars



Nov 16, 1983

2010 - Kari Lehtonen 69 4119 34 24 175 2.55 2043 1868 .914 3

A little bit of a different animal here, in that Kari Lehtonen is obviously a goaltender, but for the purposes of this article, he is a perfect example of low-risk, high-reward. The highest drafted Finnish born player EVER, Kari Lehtonen was taken as the 2nd overall pick in 2002 by the Atlanta Thrashers. After years and years of untapped potential mixed with injury upon injury, the Thrashers decided enough was enough and traded Lehtonen to the Stars for Ivan Vishnevskiy and a 4th rounder. Vishnevskiy himself is a decent prospect, having been picked 27th overall in 2006, but even still, that's a 27th overall pick and a 4th rounder for a 2nd overall pick. Not to mention Vishnevskiy is currently playing in the KHL. Essentially, Atlanta wanted to be rid of Kari. So Dallas, a team that was without a starting goaltender with the aging Marty Turco on the way out, took a flyer on Lehtonen and it paid off. Lehtonen set career highs in games played and save percentage, while tying a career high in wins. Essentially, he became the starting goalie that he was drafted to be. A solid starting goalie. 


That's all that I think I want from Filatov, is for him to become the offensive player he was drafted to be. He doesn't need to be a 50 goal scorer, but just a good, strong offensive threat when he is on the ice. I think 20 goals would make him a steal. 

What would you consider a success? A steal? Which story above do you think parallels best with Nikita?

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