The Montreal Canadiens and General Manager Pierre Gauthier were the first to make a "splash" on Trade Deadline Day Monday, and the result was the shipping of often troubled forward Andrei Kostitsyn to another conference.
Kostitsyn now finds himself a member of the new Habs-West, otherwise known as as the Nashville Predators, where he will reunite with his younger brother Sergei. The trade will give the Canadiens a second round pick in the 2013 draft. The Habs have also reacquired the conditional 5th round pick that was sent to Nashville as part of the Hal Gill trade not 10 days ago.
On June 29, 2010, the Habs traded Sergei Kostitsyn out of the city after a long love-hate relationship. Since then, he's flourished in Nashville, under a Barry Trotz system that could frankly turn just about anyone into a good hockey player. Last year, Sergei led the Preds with 50 points in 77 games, including 23 goals. He's having a quieter season so far in 2011-12, with 15 goals and 35 points in 56 games, but needless to say, that's much better than anything the Canadiens got out of him in Montreal, and certainly better than what his brother has accomplished in the last couple of seasons.
Which makes the reasoning behind this trade pretty obvious for Preds GM David Poille. If Trotz can do it with one Kostitsyn, who's to say he can't do it with another?
Andrei Kostitsyn has been the bane of the Canadiens' existence since he was drafted in 2003. The Belorussian forward came into the organization with way too much hype. Despite some medical problems, he was drafted 10th overall, ahead of some great players such as Jeff Carter, Dustin Brown, Brent Seabrook, Zach Parise, Brent Burns *deept breath* Mike Richards, and Corey Perry. Obviously hindsight is twenty-twenty, but it's never fun to see so many players progressing further and faster than such a coveted draft pick, especially one who was considered to be one of the most purely talented players in his draft year.
But as famous basketball coach John Wooden once said, "talent is God-given; be humble. Fame is man given; be grateful. Conceit is self-given; be careful."
Any problem Andrei Kostitysn ever had on the ice has always been between his ears. He has the talent to be one of the better players in the NHL -- after all, he was drafted 10th overall, and that's WITH health concerns in the form of epilepsy. He has the size to do some damage physically and be able to get to the net mostly unimpeded. He's even been able to put up some decent numbers over the course of his career in Montreal, including three 20 goal seasons over the last five years. This year has seen Kostitsyn drop off, with only 12 goals and 12 assists in 53 games, but it's really representative of Andrei's time in Montreal as a whole, and the inconsistency that has plagued his young career.
If you asked the average Habs fan what they thought Kostitsyn's numbers looked like on a yearly basis, you probably wouldn't get too many people who believed that he pretty much averages 20 goals a season. Again, the talent is there, but the commitment? Not so much. Kostitsyn frequently finds himself in the dog house, no matter the coach he's playing under (and there have been many over the last few years). He doesn't seem to fit with anyone the coach plays him with, and that leads to reduced ice time, 3rd or 4th line roles and as a result, a complete lack of motivation to contribute to this team. Kostitsyn is a good player who's just frustrating to deal with, and as much talent as he has, he's not Alex Ovechkin, so your average coach isn't going to put up for it for too long.
Randy Cunneyworth definitely wasn't going to deal with it. It was only a couple of weeks ago that Kostitsyn found himself sitting on the bench for nearly 56 out of 60 minutes, and while a lack of depth has forced the coach to play Kostitsyn more than he probably should have on a couple of occasions, Kostitsyn didn't often find himself getting the top six ice time that he would normally expect. Kostitsyn had been on the outs with his team for a while, and the odds of him returning to the Canadiens after July 1st, when he was to become an Unrestricted Free Agent, were slim to none.
So it was pretty much a given that Kostitsyn would be a member of a new team by the time the trade deadline hit, and Nashville seemed to be a perfect fit. Many people were wondering if any team would take a chance on the troubled player, considering what a headcase he had proven to be. Reuniting him with his brother may be a little risky, but it's also a move that could pay huge dividends, especially with another familiar face in Hal Gill now with the organization. At worst, Poille and the Preds will come out of this looking at a failed experiment, with Kostitsyn hitting free agency and likely heading to Russia at the end of the season. But on the other hand, this could be a genius move for that organization, especially considering the relatively small cost.
And even though it really only is a small return, I'm perfectly satisfied with a 2nd round pick coming back in exchange for the player. I was prepared to see him go for nothing in the summer, so it really isn't a big deal. But it's a shame. I remember being firmly behind Kostitsyn making this team years ago when the city was swept with Guillaume Latendresse Mania. Kostitsyn was the player with AHL experience, the player who was ready to make the team, but Latendresse was the guy who had a good camp as a young 19-year-old, the local kid, the guy who spoke French, the guy who pushed Kostitsyn down the depth chart. You have to wonder whether things would have been different if Kostitsyn had made the team over Latendresse that year.
Despite this love-hate relationship, many fans in this city had a special place in their hearts for Andrei Kostitsyn. So it's tough to see him go, even though he so obviously had one foot out the door for the better part of this season. Kostitsyn is a good player who shouldn't have to constantly be at odds with his coach. Maybe Barry Trotz is the right guy to turn that attitude around, and maybe having his brother playing next to him will help that. It sucks that we won't be able to see the resurgence of either Kostitsyn in Montreal, but trading him was the right move, and despite any hometown overrating, the return was as much as we could have probably hoped for.
Are you satisfied with the return for Andrei Kostitsyn? Are you sad to see him go? Let us know in the comments below!