After sounding off to the media about his problems with head coach Jacques Martin, Andrei Kostitsyn is getting a ton of press in and around Canada about whether or not the Montreal Canadiens should ship him out. What better place than to a team that stresses defense-first and is looking for a sniper, a team that has plenty of money being just above the salary cap floor and a team that just so happens to have rebuilt his brother’s career: the Nashville Predators.
The brothers Kostitsyn have played together most of their lives. They played for a spell in the Under-18 and under-20 Belarus hockey teams. They played in the NHL on the Montreal Canadiens from 2007-2010. Andrei, the elder brother by almost two years is a phenomenal scorer posting better-than-average numbers on the Canadiens, while his younger brother, Sergei, posted adequate numbers on the same squad. Sergei is touted as being a junior hockey prodigy that never quite lived up to the hype of coming out of the London Knights OHL organization…that is until last season with the Predators where he racked up 23 goals (leading the team) and tied Martin Erat for most points with 50.
In the same 2010-2011 season, Andrei provided some offensive punch for the Canadiens by accumulating 20 goals and 45 points to make him top five on the Montreal squad. Andrei also has the advantage of having a career +/- of +16, a number that head coach Barry Trotz would be more than happy to have come to a “defense first” team like the Nashville Predators. It seems that Andrei, much like his younger brother is not buying into the coaching direction of the Montreal Canadiens. One has to wonder if the scrutiny and verbal abuse of his younger brother by Jacques Martin alongside the merry-go-round of line-changing employed by Martin may have had something to do with Andrei taking his frustration public. After spouting his discontent with the head coach, Andrei has been put on the hot seat in Montreal and many feel his departure may be imminent if the Canadiens want to go forth without the disruption of having Andrei Kostitsyn in the locker room.
The question on everyone’s lips is where would Andrei Kostitsyn go?
Some of the teams close to the salary cap floor include the Avalanche, Islanders, Coyotes, and of course, the Nashville Predators. Now that the arbitration of Shea Weber has been settled and Nashville knows how much money they have left to spend on a top six scorer, it makes sense to bring in a player like Andrei Kostitsyn. At $3.25M for 1 year, he can provide the scoring threat the Predators desperately need in order to even scratch the surface of last season’s success. Although both are listed as Left Wingers, the Kostitsyn’s playing together would provide instant chemistry and Sergei has been quoted before about the “positives” of playing with his brother (via PuckDaddy’s article in 2009) both in the World Championships on Team Belarus and in Montreal.
Since they both play a European-style of hockey, meaning they like to set up other players, Trotz will either have to teach them to shoot the puck more or put them with a solidly offensive center like Cal O’Reilly or Colin Wilson. This line could be formidable and by having a top line of Hornqvist/Fisher/Erat, many could start penciling in the Nashville Predators as a true threat to battle for the Central Division crown.
It’ll be an interesting rest of the summer heading into training camp and Poile will have some decisions to make regarding what the make-up of the Predators will be come mid-September. My only question is if Poile will trade for a player, whether it be Andrei Kostitsyn or another NHL’er, before training camp? I think we have made a great case for Poile to peruse the trade market and bring in the elder Kostitsyn.