Feb 05, 2012; Montreal, QC, CAN; Montreal Canadiens left wing Andrei Kostitsyn (46) before the first period against Winnipeg Jets at the Bell Center. Mandatory Credit: Jean-Yves Ahern-US PRESSWIRE

Trouble In Paradise? The Curious Case of Andrei Kostitsyn

Well, up to this morning, the case of Andrei Kostitsyn‘s UFA status was seemingly going to be a positive coup for the Habs. A week or so ago, Marc Antoine Godin reported that Kostitsyn confirmed that he was willing to accept a less-than-market value offer to remain with the Montreal Canadiens squad that drafted him 10th overall in the vaunted 2003 draft.

Things have come to a head in recent games. His average ice-time over the past 5 games was 10:43, and dropped even further in Monday’s loss to the Canes to 4:20. This morning, he confirmed to Marc Antoine Godin [yes, again!] that he was unhappy with how Randy Cunneyworth was using him. Particularly, he was upset at being nailed to the bench and stated that he understood what the coach wanted but that he wasn’t the only one on the team making errors or causing turnovers.

When pressed further, Kostitsyn stated that he has not asked for a trade, but that he will discuss the situation with his agent in the coming days. What this says, in a nutshell, is that Kostitsyn is furious with his treatment and wants to play. The wanting to play part isn’t something to crucify him for, but Cunneyworth is not wrong in stating that Kostitsyn needs to play a simpler north-south game to curb the turnovers. The past few games have been difficult for Kostitsyn, he’s been making turnover over turnover. He does need to play better. But, Kostitsyn does have the benefit of not causing the most egregious turnovers ever, that honor goes to Kaberle, Campoli and Palushaj. Gomez was also benched in Monday’s loss, got into a shouting match with Randy Ladouceur at practice. I find it quite interesting that it’s consistently Ladouceur who gets into the scrums with players and not Cunneyworth.

I’m not surprised that Kostitsyn is upset, he’s a fairly consistent contributor on this team in a contract year. He wants to play, he even was willing to sign for less to remain here. A fairly consistent 20-goal scorer, Kostitsyn obviously wants a chance to prove his worth. It looks like he may not get that chance here.

He definitely will have value but it becomes a question whether his value can be maximized in the Bleu-Blanc-Rouge or whether the potential trade return will be greater. In 373 games with the Habs, he was scored 99 goals and 111 assists for 210 points. Definitely a good producer, with more than 20 goals in 3 out of 5 full professional seasons. In the playoffs, he’s scored 19 points in 41 games.

This is definitely a story to watch in the weeks upcoming to the trade deadline.

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