Today the Ottawa Senators bid farewell to Nikita Filatov, allowing him to return to Russia to make better money in the KHL. The Sens retain his rights but he's not likely to be back with the club. The red flag for me on Filatov was always this: If Columbus, the worst team in the NHL, was willing to give him up for virtually nothing, was he really an NHL prospect anymore? But it was still a low-risk worthwhile move, just to kick the tires.
Since taking over as GM of the Sens in 2007, Bryan Murray has been noticeably gun shy on taking Russians in the draft. In his last 4 drafts, Murray has avoided Russians the way Lindsay Lohan avoids dignity and soap.
Here is a list of the Sens' Russian prospects, just the ones taken in the top four rounds of the NHL draft. It should be noted, since 2000, the Sens haven't once bothered to use a single top 40 pick on a Russian.
1992 - 2nd overall - Alexei Yashin. 491 points in 504 games. Now in KHL with CSKA Moscow. Good as he was, his contract holdouts and insufferable renegotation demands left him regarded as one of the least liked Sens of all time. Mike Milbury's generous care package to Ottawa - Chara and Spezza - helped ease the hatred.
1998 - 101st overall - Peter Schastlivy - 38 points in 107 games. Now in KHL with UFA Salavat Yulayev.
2000 - 21st overall - Anton Volchenkov - 94 points in 428 games. Helped the Sens to their only Cup final. Now in New Jersey.
2002 - 47th overall - Alexei Kaigorodov - 1 assist in 6 games. Now in the KHL with Magnitogorsk.
2003 - 67th overall - Igor Mirnov - Never played. Now in KHL with UFA Salavat Yulayev.
2004 - 58th overall - Kirill Lyamin - Never played. Now in KHL with Omsk Avangard.
2004 - 122nd overall - Alexander Nikulin - 0 assists in 2 games. Now in KHL with Khabarovsk Amur.
2005 - 98th overall - Ilya Zubov - 2 assists in 11 games. Now in KHL with CSKA Moscow.
2005 - 70th overall - Vitali Anikeyenko. Never played. Played 6 years in the KHL, all with Yaroslavl Lokomotiv, until the entire club was killed in a plane crash this year.
2007 - 60th overall - Ruslan Bashkirov. Never played. Now in the VHL - Tier 2 Russian Pro League - with HK Ryazan.
Most of those prospects are tales of lesser prospects. Why would they come here and toil in the minors when they can stay home and make big money right away? But Filatov was 6th overall (ed.). A can't miss prospect and it still didn't pan out.
Let's say, for the sake of argument, the Sens were to become a lottery team this season. Would Murray set aside his general disinterest in Russians? Injuries aside, it'll be tough to pass up Nail Yakupov or Mikhail Grigorenko. But I think, due to the current Russian bias out there, someone might. Can't blame Murray for it. Since 2007, he's rolled the bones on only two other Russians. Alexei Kovalev and Sergei Gonchar. Ugh.