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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Edmonton? Chicago? Who else would want Sergei Kostitsyn?

Let me start by saying, "I called it!" re: the Sergei Kostitsyn situation. Hooray. Nice for me. Ok, enough patting myself on the back...

After being demoted to the AHL but a) refusing to report to the Bulldogs and b) requesting to be traded, it appears that Sergei 'lil-punk' Kostitsyn's time in Montreal is over. I can't say that I am sad about it but definitely disappointed, as there is no questions that Sergei is a talented player. But, like Mike Ribiero and Mikhael Grabovski before him, his bad attitude will mean that he will have to ply his trade with another NHL (or KHL) team.

So this begs the question of who in their right mind would be interested in Sergei Kostitsyn. While he has shown flashes or top-6 talent, he has also shown that he has a serious attitude problem. This fact is only exemplified by his refusal to report to Hamilton. I mean think about it...if I am a team in the NHL that is possibly interested in Sergei, I know that he has already refused to report to the AHL. So I would imagine that if he signs with my team, I have to play him in the NHL or he will react the same way. So why would I want to take that chance on a sulky, unproven player?

On the surface, and in a sane world, there is no reason why any team would take want acquire Sergei with all of the baggage that he comes with. But if there is one thing I have learned, it is that NHL GM's aren't always sane. Moreover, there has got to be at least a few NHL GM's that would take a flyer on a 22 year old player who has a lot of potential upside. You figure that someone is going to think that a change of scene might help Sergei become a great player. No?

If you think about it logically, the only two places that come to mind are Edmonton and Chicago. Why? Well, Sergei Kostitsyn put up over 130 points, a few years back in Junior, playing on a line with Patrick Kane (Chicago) and Sam Gagner (Edmonton). You would think that the GM's of both of those teams will at least consider the idea of bringing Sergei to their team given his past history with those players. Edmonton might be excited to get him just for the simple fact that they seem to have a hard time getting players to sign with their team. By trading for Sergei, they wouldn't have to worry about whether he wanted to come to town or not. The only problem with that logic is the Edmonton just waived Robbie Schremp, who is a more talented Kostitsyn-type player. So that seems unlikely. I think that out of the two teams, Chicago might be the better fit for a whole slew of reasons.

Chicago, as most people know, has some horrific cap issues going forward. Both Patrick Kane and Jonathan Towes are RFA's this coming summer and will take a lot of money to resign. That, plus the huge Marian Hossa contract, mean that Chicago will have no choice but to free up some cap space at some point between now and next summer. Sergei Kostitsyn is only making 850K US a season and even though he is also an RFA next summer, he hasn't had good enough results in the NHL to earn anthing more than a neglible raise, at best. So, his cap friendly contract would work well for Chicago.

The speculation has been that Patrick Sharp and/or Brent Seabrook and/or Dustin Byfuglien could be moveable parts. Not necessarily because Chicago wants to move them, you understand, but more because they have to move someone. They just don't have a choice but to part with some of the good players they have acquired.

The other issue with Chicago is that Huet just doesn't seem to be good enough. Sure he can be a steadying force in the nets and he puts in some great efforts, but he has shown that he is not the guy who can carry a team in the post-season. I believe that Chicago will have problems with him this year and will be looking for an upgrade in nets.

Montreal has Halak as Price's backup. Halak is also going to be an free agent at the end of the year, and I think that there is NO WAY he will finish the season in Montreal. Starting last year and continuing in training camp, Halak has shown that he is likely capable of being a #1 on some team somewhere. That being said, it is clear that Gainey has chosen to live and die by Price and as such, it would seem logical that he will trade Halak before the end of the season.

Another piece that might be on the move, in Montreal, is Tomas Plekanec. He was great two years ago, bad last season and is waiting to exhale, this year. There is no question that he has talent, but there is a lot of questions as to whether he is a legit #2 center. Also, Montreal needs to upgrade one of their centers if they are ever going to become a contender and with Gomez's horid contract, he isn't going anywhere! Finally, Plekanec signed a 1 year deal in the off season meaning that he will be a UFA at seasons end. This all smells like a "let's see what you can do this year, and if you can't do anything I'll trade you before the deadline" type of situation.

So, to sum up, Chicago needs cap room, needs better goaltending and will have no choice but to move some players at some point this year. While Montreal has an expendable goaltender, needs an upgrade at the center postion, and has a talented but bad attitude-ridden player to move who had incredible chemisty, in the past, with Patrick Kane.

Hmmmm.....sounds like a match to me.

All of this is of course conjecture and even if these two teams did do a deal, there is no way to know who would be involved nor which players would go in which direction. That being said, there is no doubt that, on paper at least, these two dance partners seems like a good fit. Only time will tell whether they just glance at each other from across the room or gather the courage to ask the other to dance.

K.

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