One of the more interesting moves made by Nashville Predators over the summer was the acquisition of Sergei Kostitsyn.
Preds General Manager David Poile traded the signing rights of Dan Ellis and Dustin Boyd to the Montreal Canadiens for the 23 year old left winger a couple of days before the July 1st free agent signing day. Poile then signed Kostitsyn for the bargain basement price of $550,000 for one season making him a low cost, low risk addition to the team..
In three seasons with Montreal, Kostitsyn played in 155 NHL games and scored 24 goals and added 44 assists. His 13.2 shot percentage is impressive. He also played 54 games in the AHL, evenly distributed over the three years.
Kostitsyn has starred in international competitions, including last year’s stint with Team Belarus in the Olympics, where he had two goals and three assists in four games. He excelled in Juniors where he was teammates with Patrick Kane and Sam Gagner, who still consider him a friend.
No one questions that Kostitsyn has potential NHL top six forward abilities, while also being an asset on the power play and penalty kill. After last year’s season long feud with Canadien’s coach Jacques Martin, Montreal basically threw in the towel and “gave” him to the Preds.
Kostitsyn’s welcome in Montreal was over and Sergei knew it.
“I knew I would be traded but I didn’t know where,” he said.
With the Predators, during the preseason camp, Kostitsyn has appeared to play better in games than at practice. He played in four games, showing flashes of brilliance at times. His highlight real redirection from Shea Weber against Atlanta gave Nashville fans a look at his potential. Then, after that game, in the dressing room, he appeared somewhat aloof and struggled to recognize the name of his Captain who fed him the pass on his goal.
The one word that always seems to be used to describe the young Belorussian is “enigmatic” and it fits. You see a guy that has been blessed with plenty of talent and you always seem to be waiting to see more on the ice.
Kostitsyn appears to want to succeed and said all the right things on the first day of camp.
“I really like it in Nashville,” he said. “I think all the guys are nice guys. I fell pretty good here.”
He also acknowledged that the Montreal media was much different than in Nashville.
“I think here is not like Montreal, not too many of you guys (media),” said Kostitysn. “There there was like 40 people after every practice.”
He also was positive about his ability to mesh with his teammates.
“I think I will fit this team, plenty of young forwards that are all fast,” Kostitsyn said about the Preds lineup up front.
As it stands now, Kostitsyn is not on one of the top four lines and will probably spend opening night on Saturday in the Bridgestone Arena press box. He has been slowed by a foot injury but was back on the ice on Thursday.
Fans, coaches, and teammates are all pulling for Kostitsyn to live up to his potential. After being in the fishbowl environment of Montreal, Nashville is probably one of the best places in the league for Sergei to have a break out year.
There is only so much others can do to help him accomplish his goals. The final piece to his puzzle has to come from within. At this point, everyone is patiently waiting to see what lies ahead. He will get an opportunity to play sooner than later and he needs to make the most of it every time his skate touches the ice.
Nashville is a safe environment for Kostitsyn. He needs to embrace that, put the past behind him, and show the hockey world what he can do.