Canadiens ship Kostitsyn to Nashville
CHRIS STEVENSON, QMI Agency
|Andrei Kostitysn has been shipped to the Nashville Predators. (PIERRE-PAUL POULIN/QMI Agency)
SUNRISE, FLA. - Andrei Kostitsyn said he doesn't like country music.
But the now ex-Montreal Canadiens winger said he's happy he's going to have the chance to reunite with brother Sergei with the Nashville Predators after the Habs made the first move on the NHL's trade deadline day, sending Andrei to Music City for a second-round draft pick in 2013 and the conditional pick they had sent to Nashville along with defenceman Hal Gill last week.
Andrei Kostitsyn was a frustrating player for the Habs, gifted with decent size and one of the best shots in the game, but seldom put either to use on a regular basis. He did average about 20 goals a season, but would go long stretches where he would be invisible.
That's been the case again this season. He has just two goals in his last 28 games (and seven assists) and, with 12 goals on the season, getting to the 20-goal plateau for the fourth time in his five full NHL seasons appears to be in jeopardy.
But the number of goal scorers out there is small at this deadline and the Predators are gambling the presence of Sergei and Gill will help give them another offensive threat.
"We've been looking for a top-nine, top-six forward, his name has been bantered around. Obviously with his brother being here, the familiarity, getting Hal Gill, we feel we have enough people who know him that it will make it a seamless 'commoner,' for him, if you will," Predators assistant general manager Paul Fenton said on the team's website.
He said the club sought Gill's opinion on Kostitsyn and he recommended him.
"I don't know if it helps or hurts. A lot of times you want to hear the right things about a guy, about a player, about the situation he might have been in and why he wasn't successful. Hal had some good things to say about him. We've been watching him for a long time. He was in consideration in 2003 for us when we had the draft here and took Ryan Suter. He's a very high-end, top-skilled type of player. Just getting him to play when he wants to play has been the knock on him. We think with the insulation we have with our players, we'll be able to do that."
"He will come over to the dark side and play to his ability," Predators coach Barry Trotz told The Tennesean newspaper.
"When we got Sergei, I heard nothing but bad things about Sergei -- that he couldn't do this, he couldn't do that, he couldn't do this, he's not going to help you, all those types of things. They're wrong, we're right, Sergei is one of the best things. We virtually gave up nothing and got our first-line left winger. Nothing wrong with that. He's a good player. I expect the same thing of Andrei. I know he's a terrific talent and he can play."
Fenton said the Predators will continue trying to make more moves up to the 3 p.m. trade deadline.
"We want to improve this hockey team. We want to go for the whole thing. We're really looking at some different creative type of things to help improve us."
"I think he is going to be more happy here and his product is going to go up," Sergei told the Tennessean. "It's more quiet, people, I think, are more friendly here than in Montreal. It's better for me than it was in Montreal."
"I'm sure they're going to enjoy being out of the spotlight a little bit and being able to walk around town without people bothering them. I can see Sergei thriving down here. He's playing great. Hopefully the same thing happens with Andrei," said Gill.
Suter, who is poised to become an unrestricted free agent in the summer, is waiting to see what the Preds are going to do to improve the team before deciding on his future.
"Obviously, he's a high-end guy. When he shows up, he's quite a force to be reckoned with. It'll be fun to get him in here and hopefully he will produce for us," Suter said to The Tennesean.
The Canadiens also claimed tough winger Brad Staubitz on waivers from the Minnesota Wild.