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Saturday, August 13, 2011

Andrei Kostitsyn: Will Montreal trade him to Nashville?

Andrei Kostitsyn
Andrei Kostitsyn is unhappy in Montreal according to a recent interview with his hometown Belarusian media outlet. Sounds like he's greasing the skids for a trade. Kostitsyn to

"I can't guess about next season...My relationship with the coach is not too good...It wasn't me who started to play badly...It's just that I was being played on the third and fourth line...I've tried talking to (Jacques Martin) more than once. But he doesn't care."

Some in the MTL media are already calling for AK46's departure. His brother Sergei Kostitsyn plays with the Nashville Predators, a team that is in need of a top six winger. At a recent press conference call David Poile was asked if he still had $4M to $6M to spend for next year's team -- Poile responded: 

"I would rather not put a dollar figure on it. I would rather look at it as an opportunity to improve our team. A lot of things we did this off season (not to re-signing their own UFAs and also buying out JP Dumont) were to put ourselves in this have the ability to sign players such as Shea (Weber) and a couple of the other top guys, and to add what I would call a top six forward or a top four defenseman when the need arises and when the opportunity presents itself. And the owners are on board for that. We'll be taking advantage of opportunities when they present themselves...I'm well aware that we probably need a couple of forwards to take us to the level to truly compete for the Stanley Cup."

The "opportunity" he talks about has obviously presented itself -- and quite clearly. In fact, when one considers what's at stake for NSH (re-siging Shea Weber), I wouldn't be surprised if  Poile subtly planted a seed with his own player Sergei Kostitsyn, to have him check his network (wink wink) to see if there were any "opportunities".

Andrei Kostitsyn on Pekka Rinne
Lo and behold, a couple weeks later, brother Andrei pipes up about his desire to be deployed as a top six forward rather than outside of the top six, which looks to be the case next season with MTL's acquisition of winger Erik Cole. Considering Poile's motivation and Kostitsyn's desire, I'm thinking NSH will come up with a very fair offer to acquire the latters services to re-unite the elder Kostitsyn with his younger brother.

This deal could get done before the season gets started -- I'd hazard to guess in a matter of a few weeks. 

One would think Andrei Kostitsyn's trade value is lower than that of Mike Fisher, who was dealt to NSH last season. Kostitsyn only has one year left on his contract while Fisher had several. However, Fisher was acquired under somewhat opportunistic circumstances which resulted in trade discount. NSH was not forced to relinquish any top prospects or roster players, just draft picks (NSH's 2011 1st rounder and a conditional second/third rounder). Ottawa sent Fisher to his preferred destination (in consideration of his wife's Carrie's career), forsaking better bids from other teams. 

Shea Weber & Gosh Jorges (Golfing in Kelowna)
In contrast to OTT though, MTL will not simply accept draft picks from NSH for Andrei Kostitsyn. The Habs will be looking for players that can step in right away or fairly soon.

Considering that MTL lost two important blueliners (James Wisniewski and Roman Hamrlik) this off-season to free agency and one half of their top six defense corp will be UFAs next off-season, (including Kelowna Connection member Josh Gorges), the Canadiens' most pressing need quite quickly will be on the blueline (MTL media concurs).

Fortunately for MTL, NSH owns the rights to a boatload of top six blueline youngsters and prospects, including Jon Blum, Roman Josi, Mattias Ekholm, Ryan Ellis and Charles-Olivier Roussel

Relinquished Players
FBenoit Pouliot79131730211:32UFA, BOS
FJeff Halpern72111526612:43UFA, WSH
FTom Pyatt61257-110:38UFA, TBL
FDustin Boyd10101-69:50UFA, KHL
FNigel Dawes13011-69:49UFA, KHL
DJames Wisniewski75104151-1422:56UFA, CBJ
DRoman Hamrlik7952934622:16UFA, WSH
DAlexandre Picard43358016:25UFA, PIT
DBrent Sopel71257616:20UFA, KHL
DPaul Mara53156118:16UFA

Alexander Radulov
The newest Montreal Canadiens blueliner, Alexei Yemelin has fellow Russian National Team member in Alexander Radulov that is NSH's long lost top six winger. Potentially, Radulov may just be a year away from returning to the NHL from his KHL detour. Packaged with a blue chip d-man prospect, Radulov could be the cherry on top in a deal that lands NSH Andrei Kostitsyn. Be aware though, despite being a top six winger, Radulov's value is likely only the equivalent of a 2nd round pick.

Other teams will naturally be somewhat shy about divesting important assets in a trade for Andrei especially if they feel he's going to end up in NSH with his brother come July 1. (I don't think it was any coincidence that the Belarusian interview was done with both Andrei and Sergei together).  

Now that groundwork has been laid for a prospective deal, my guess would be something in the ballpark of this:

Ryan Ellis + Alexander Radulov  for  Andrei Kostitsyn + two conditional 2nd round picks 

Ellis - Subban - Hodgson

Why Ryan Ellis? Former Tampa Bay Lightning GM Brian Lawton tweeted during this past draft:

@brianlawton9 Brian LawtonHearing Ryan Ellis to boston for the 9th pick!

Ellis obviously didn't get dealt to Boston. However, the fact that a former NHL GM tweeted his name in a rumor leads me to believe he may be the player NSH utlizes as trade currency if in fact they are going to be dangling blue chip prospects. Nick Kypreos certainly felt Lawton to be a legit source since he re-tweeted it with his own commentary (in the form of a rhetorical question):

@RealKyper Nick Kypreos"@brianlawton9: Hearing Ryan Ellis to boston for the 9th pick!" Could this mean Kaberle's replacement for the power play?

Even if we remove Radulov from the equation, a deal could be struck between the two parties along the lines of:

Ryan Ellis  for  Andrei Kostitsyn + a conditional 2nd round pick 

The conditional pick would be included just in case Andrei Kostitsyn doesn't re-sign with NSH. There are alternatives to Ellis though, including:

a) Colin Wilson (but I think Poile is going to save him for another deal -- I explain here)
b) Roman Josi (NSH has been grooming this guy too long and also have a need for his services immediately)
c) Mattias Ekholm (perhaps too much of a mystery at this point for his trade value to get this deal done) 

Montreal Canadiens
Left WingCapGPPTOICenterCapGPPTOIRight WingCapGPPTOI
Mike Cammalleri$6.0674718:28Tomas Plekanec$5.0775720:14Erik Cole$4.5825218:27
Max Pacioretty$1.6372415:53Scott Gomez$7.4803818:33Brian Gionta$5.0824619:37
Travis Moen*$1.5791613:11Lars Eller$1.3771711:08Andrei Kostitsyn*$3.3814515:53
David Desharnais$0.9432212:52Ryan White$0.62758:55Mathieu Darche*$0.7592611:16
Andreas Engqvist$0.9308:45Aaron Palushaj$0.9308:31
Left DefenseCapGPPTOIRight DefenseCapGPPTOIGoalCapGPWSV%
Andrei Markov$5.87322:54P.K. Subban$0.9773822:16Carey Price$2.87238.923
Hal Gill*$2.375919:49Josh Gorges*$2.536721:10Peter Budaj$1.24515.895
Jaroslav Spacek*$3.8591619:14Yannick Weber$0.9411116:33
Alexei Yemelin$1.0Rookie
BuyoutGeorges Laraque$0.5Forward
Salary Cap$64,300,000
Cap Payroll$60,903,842Bonuses: $488K
Cap Space$3,396,158Roster Size: 23 players

* pending UFA

Ellis and Radulov may not help MTL this season, although Ellis may acclimatize well in Hamilton and get a call up for the stretch run. Nevertheless, considering the contractual state of the MTL blueline, and a possible return of Radulov to the NHL (and to a team that has iconic status in Russia), this would set MTL up nicely for next season, with a potential for it to be a home run if the stars align.

Radulov still has a year remaining on his ELC worth $886K including bonuses. If he plays in the NHL during the 2012-13 season, it will be at that rate. After which, he will still be an RFA -- unless the new CBA changes the UFA rules. Currently the CBA requires a player to be 27 years old by July 1 in order to become a UFA. Radulov won't be 27 until July 5, 2013.

Also, because Radulov is already under contract, perhaps with some limitations, Radulov would be able to join his NHL team even while the NHL season is in progress (say for example, after the KHL season is over in Feb/Mar) without having to go through NHL waivers.

Sergei Samsonov
In the mean time though, MTL could likely sign one of the remaining skilled UFA forwards like Sergei Samsonov or Cory Stillman to replace Andrei Kostitsyn on the third line at a price that would be more appropriate for those types of minutes.

AK46 will make $3.25M this coming season while a Samsonov could be had for somewhere around a $1M on a short-term deal. Samsonov, a former Hab, should be good for about 25 points at even strength and another 15 points on the PP. The right handed shooting Samsonov would also complement either lefty, Lars Eller or Scott Gomez (who himself needs to have a bounce back year).

Andrei Kostitsyn


  1. Ryan Ellis + Alexander Radulov for Andrei Kostitsyn + two conditional 2nd round picks

    LOL. Ellis AND Radulov? You could just do one of them str8 up for Kostitsyn.

  2. So you are saying Radulov could return Andrei Kostitsyn in a trade? That's not happening. As I stated in the blog post, Radulov's value is at best a second rounder or perhaps more accurately, a conditional second rounder.

    You may recall, Radulov unexpectedly up and left NSH three years ago for the KHL -- with no guarantee of a return to to the NHL. During that span Andrei Kostitsyn has been scoring 20+ goals a season, and seems quite content plying his trade here.

    With regard to Ellis for Kostitsyn, yeah, that could be done in isolation...but perhaps you missed it -- I already stated that in the blog post:

    "Ryan Ellis for Andrei Kostitsyn + conditional 2nd round pick"