by SENShobo on 11/03/08 at 10:39 PM ET
Ottawa prospect Alexander Nikulin finally got his wish.
The Senators traded the disgruntled forward to the Phoenix Coyotes in exchange for defenceman Drew Fata.
The 23-year old Nikulin told the Senators last week that he will return to Russia if they didn’t have a deal in place by today.
Such promise, such high hopes for Alexander, but alas, it was for naught…
Nikulin finally gets his wish, and winds up with Gretzky in Phoenix. I can’t say I’m familiar with Drew Fata, but I suspect Nikulin’s flighty ways made sure that Murray was not in any advantageous bargaining position. Best of luck to you Nikulin, but next time, why not work with the team, rather than against it; everybody wins that way.
If we were thin at forward, instead of full of hardworking individuals, some waiting to break through but with ample skill nonetheless, Nikulin might’ve seen play in Ottawa. I’d argue that he’s actually in a more interesting, if potentially tougher, spot now. Competing against rookies like Turris, Tikhonov, and Boedker might not be the ideal opportunity for Nikulin, but as Phoenix encounters struggles, and because he’s admittedly ready to bolt to Russia, he’ll undoubtedly get a look.
Maybe the presence of Tikhonov will be a good thing. Nikulin opted not to follow the example set by his ex-teammate, Zubov, to stay and work out in Canada, instead following the allure of working out with Malkin and Gonchar in Russia. In the end, from everything I’ve seen and heard, it was actually Zubov, working with Chris Neil, who showed the most improvement. Seeing as how Tikhonov has the prestige and skill that Nikulin wanted to follow this summer, along with being fully acclimatised to North American hockey from his years in California, he might be a key to unlocking Nikulin’s potential, and getting him to move past whatever it was that convinced him to so outlandishly hold the Senators hostage. Assuming again that Nikulin looks up to star players, working under head coach Wayne Gretzky might also get his attention, focus, and the hard work we’ve been looking for.
Throughout his time with the Binghamton Senators, and from what I’ve seen in videos and my two trips to the rookie tournaments, he has plenty of potential to unlock. He still needs to develop the very much absent physical portion of his game, and seeing him sit idly by the crease in those rookie games — but not so close as to elicit any defenseman making a move after him — suggests that he needs to be more active and hardworking.
Drew Fata, I can honestly say I know little about. He is a 25 year old, 220lbs stay at home defenseman, with career numbers of 9-33—42, -8, 594PIM in 218 AHL GP, 1-1—2, -3, 9PIM in 8 NHL GP, working his way from being drafted in Pittsburgh to stops with their ECHL and AHL, then off to the Islanders for some more AHL and the extent of his NHL career, before winding up with Phoenix’s AHL affiliate. The one very positive thing I can say for certain about him? He plays his game, and plays the role he’s placed into, without any apparent threats or demands. If that will be his continued attitude in Binghamton and within the Senators’ organization, then I bid him a hearty, warm welcome.
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