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10-02-2008, 10:34 AM
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Originally Posted by Slippy View Post
He never said he wouldn't. He siad he would like to go to a team where he would have a chance to crack the lineup. By saying an average team, he seems to have a realistic view of his talent level (not going to a solid NHL roster player). He states if the team he is traded to puts him in the minors, he will have re-evaluate whether to go back to Russia or not.
Exactly. I'm not entirely sure that Nikulin is going to bolt to Russia if traded to another team. I think a team that trades for him will have to inform him of what they see in him and how they want to use him.

The problem is that he quite obviously was clueless about his place in the organization until a very clear non-verbal message was sent to him by not even giving him a pre-season game to play in. That's why he clearly reacted so strongly because he thought (or had been led to believe) he was in the Senators plans, at least as a prospect it saw as having NHL potential. I think any 23 year old who gave up a better life, better pay, better career at home to spend time in the AHL would react the same way if the NHL club he was putting his effort into cracking essentially lost interest in him.

I think if a team acquires him and communicates with him where they see him fitting in things could change. Even if his work-out program may not have been up to the Senators standards, Nikulin has shown numerous times that he is well intentioned. He was trying to do the right thing with off-season training and he was trying to do the right thing by trying his hardest at the AHL level. It's not like his intentions aren't sound and his willingness to work to achieve his goals evaporated or never existed.

That being said, he has very little trade value and there is very little reason to think any team will trade for him now with the intention of him playing in the NHL. His success in Russia and at the AHL level are solid but not amazing, nor does he have top line potential or anything. That only adds to the stupidity of not playing him in a pre-season game though - he didn't even get a chance to show another team where he is at in his development. My hope for him is that a team acquires him, explains to him where he fits in and what he has to do. If a team does that it's because they appreciate his talent and potential and see him as a fit with the organizational direction, something Murray and co. don't seem to see because he doesn't play their style.

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