Izvestia.ru reported Thursday that General Manager of Avangard Omsk in the KHL is in negotiations with Sergei Kostitsyn regarding a new contract. The even more surprising news came when the GM said David Poile had no objections to SK signing with Avangard.
It is now clear that Poile and the Nashville Predators have no plans in moving forward with Kostitsyn on the roster, whether it is a compliance buyout or the termination of his contract if he does sign in Russia. Trading him would not be an option because not one team in the NHL–except the Calgary Flames–would want a underachieving top line player who also has a $3 million cap hit in 2013-14.
Throughout last season, the 26 year old looked distracted and unfocused. It showed, thus killing his reputation, on March 17 when he quit on a play that led to a goal in Edmonton. After that miscue, SK74 found himself so deep in Barry Trotz's dog house that it may be impossible for him to get out.
The Kostitsyn brothers–Andrei and Sergei–are just a lazy duo and bring truth to the "lazy Russians" stigma. During Belarus' Olympic qualifying matches Andrei, arguably the country's best hockey player, missed practices and was kicked off the team.
In 46 games last season with the Predators, Kostitsyn posted 15 points (3g, 12a). With Avangard during the lockout, he scored 28 points (9g, 19a) in 27 games.
In Trotz's end of the year press conference, he called out Kostitsyn for his lack of play throughout the season. "We expected production from Sergei and we got none," Trotz told Jim Diamond of the Examiner.com. "We were looking at [him] to be a top-six forward and we got no production. Sergei was on power plays all year. I did it to try to get [him] going. I tried different things to get [that guy] going…but that didn't get'er done."
One thing Preds fans shouldn't worry about is depth at the forward position. With the likes of Gabriel Bourque, Paul Gaustad, Patric Hornqvist and Colin Wilson returning to the lineup in time for next season, there will be plenty of depth throughout the lineup. Not to mention whoever Poile signs during the free agency period, which begins July 5th. And surely the fourth overall pick will replace Kostitsyn well, whether it is Aleksander Barkov, Jonathan Drouin, Nathan MacKinnon or Valeri Nichushkin.
At least the new additions and those returning from injury will shoot the puck during a game.
Lastly, let's remind ourselves about the validity of some Russian articles. In October 2012, Kostitsyn said he was misquoted when he told Sport-Express, "Let’s put it this way–it would be better (for the players) if the lockout continues. Players want a definite answer. If the NHL season is lost – let it be that way. I would then play in Russia for the whole season.
"I couldn't get used to (American) mentality. They are totally different people from us."
After the quote surfaced in North America, he told The Tennessean that he wished the lockout would end. However, I'm not completely buying that.
(Photo by: Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)