There is a lot of upside potential to the demotion of Nikita Filatov. First, I like the move because it asserts Coach Arniel's views on the things the Jackets should be doing, yet have been failing miserably at lately. Put another way, this could send a message to some of the other guys who might need to work on their fundamentals. If anything I think this move could have been made sooner-maybe a week or so ago. It shows that team management are willing to give a player, especially one with high expectations such as Filatov, a fair opportunity to earn his spot. However, Filatov hasn't come anywhere near his potential over the past couple of seasons. Ironically, his best recent numbers were two seasons ago while playing for Syracuse, the same Syracuse that he wouldn't play for last season. Two seasons ago in 39 games for the Crunch, Nik was 16-16-32.
More upside for the Jackets is the opportunity to take another look at Tom Sestito. Until a lower body injury sidelined him in mid-November, Sestito led the Springfield Falcons in points and penalty minutes. Sestito is a big kid (listed at 6'5", 228 lbs.) who uses his substantial size to his advantage. Plenty of guys that size look to be an enforcer, but not Sestito...although he's obviously not afraid to mix it up. In 17 games for the Falcons, Tom has 6 goals and 11 assists for 17 points and 81 PIM. He has been a lot of fun to watch as a Falcon, I hope he brings the same physical game to Columbus.
The Falcons have struggled over their last ten games going 3-6-1. Filatov comes to Springfield at an important point in the season. The most consistent players over the past few weeks have been Matt Calvert, Nick Tarnasky and Jay Pandolfo. With the latter two on PTO's, they are only one job offer away from leaving the Falcons in quite a bind. Currently, in the Atlantic Division of the AHL, the Falcons are fifth with a record of 12-13-1-1, good for 26 points. This is an important part of the season because starting tonight, the Birds play four of their next five games against the Atlantic Division's last place club, the Providence Bruins. Last place yes, but still only 3 points behind the Falcons.
What everybody is really hoping for is that Filly finds his touch, helps the Falcons for a while and gets back to the big club. I will be at the MassMutual Center for tonight's Falcons game. I plan on putting updates on Twitter @shhshockey.