To Russia, With Love?

Enigmatic Blue Jackets' winger Nikita Filatov is being loaned to CSKA Moscow for the remainder of this season.  The offensively gifted winger has never fit into Ken Hitchcock's defensive-minded system and believes that time in the KHL will help him to develop his game. According to an interview with Dmitry Chesnokov, Filatov is leaving on good terms with the team and both Filatov and the team hope that he will eventually return and succeed with the club.

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Filatov's loan raises the specter of Alexander Radulov's walking out on his NHL contract, and I am sure there are pessimists in Columbus who wonder if Filatov will ever come back to the club.  That being said, the Filatov move seems legitimate; he wants to develop and does not have that opportunity in Columbus.

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This loan is yet another chapter in the ongoing saga that is relations between the KHL and the NHL.  There have recently been rumors that the Washington Capitals will soon be loaning center Michael Nylander to a KHL team, a move that would conveniently free up almost $4 million in cap space.  Earlier this year, Jiri Hudler jumped from arbitration with the Red Wings to Dynamo Moscow; a move that led to hearings with the International Ice Hockey Federation.  Some have speculated that superstar Ilya Kovalchulk, a free agent at the end of this season, might move to the KHL rather than remain in Atlanta.  

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As "loans" become more commonplace, it becomes even more pressing that the NHL and KHL formalize a transfer agreement of some sort to regulate player movement and avoid conflict.  Unfortunately, the NHL and the KHL seem to have missed the memo that the Cold War ended years ago.  Or maybe the KHL is just bitter about 1980.

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