If there’s one topic and player that has been flogged harder than Scott Gomez in the past 2 seasons, it has to be Andrei Kostitsyn.
Since being drafted 10th overall at the 2003 draft, he has consistently done one thing: fail to live up to expectations.
Guess what? It’s your fault.
He’s been assigned labels like “heartless”, “lazy”, “inconsistent”, “soft” and “replaceable”. Seriously, guys?
I guess you’ve been duped in to thinking that 20 goal / 100 hit guys grow on trees, or that Kostitsyn is somehow overpaid for what he brings. “Heartless” and “lazy” are off-base monikers that are totally subjective, and I suspect more often than not are derogatory adjectives given to Eastern European players by “lazy” fans and media who can’t be bothered to actually “do the research” before passing judgement on him.
Let’s tackle this one: Since 2007-08, Kostitsyn’s points-per-game average has been: .68ppg (07-08), .55ppg (08-09), .56ppg (09-10), .55ppg (10-11), .51ppg (11-12). While this year represents a low, we should also note that he is no longer getting prime ice time, and rarely gets power play time (1:48 of powerplay time per game, 8th on the team). If Kostitsyn plays 70 games, he scores 20 goals and will throw 100 hits on a team that has been forever labeled small and weak. Talk about shouldering the burden.
Another misnomer for AK46. Over the course of the past 5 seasons, Kostitsyn has ranked no lower than 5th among forwards in terms of hits thrown, and anyone watching knows that Andrei Kostitsyn can throw his weight around as well as anyone. In fact, Kostitsyn led the team in hits last season with 140, and was 3rd in 09-10 despite missing 20+ games. This season, AK46 is second in hits behind Erik Cole with 75 hits in 47 games. Kostitsyn has played 10 fewer games than Cole, who will not keep up this year’s pace as he ages.
Habs fans have been clamoring for Kostitsyn’s ouster from Montreal for years now, mostly because he hasn’t pleased those who think he’s a 35 goal man with a 20 goal man’s drive. With the NHL average salary about to creep closer to 3 million dollars, I’d hate to think that there are people out there dumb enough to think that his 3.25 million dollar salary is some kind of overpayment for his services. I defy you to find another player on the open market that is a lock for 20 goals, 40pts and 100 hits for what will be slightly more than the league average next season. If the Habs look to replace his production and presence on the free agent market, they’ll have to badly overpay in terms of annual salary and term. The Habs would be smart to re-sign Kostitsyn while he’s still willing…if he’s still willing. And don’t talk to me about in-house replacements. The Canadiens have nobody – N-O-B-O-D-Y in the organization that is close to being able to produce the way Kostitsyn does. Not Louis Leblanc, not Mike Blunden, not Aaron Palushaj, not Brendan Gallagher.
While Kostitsyn was drafted behind all-stars like Perry, Getzlaf, Richards, Kesler, Parise and Carter, fans simply need to stop being so unbelievably and absolutely thick-skulled about Kostitsyn. Adjust your expectations already! Andrei Kostitsyn brings stability, skill and a sorely needed physical presence to the Canadiens lineup. If he was given steady linemates and given a role that suits his best skill (that of a sniper), maybe he’d be closer to the guy everyone thinks he ought to be. But until then, the Canadiens have a reliable, home-grown player that comes at excellent value. Apparently that isn’t enough, though. That damn 10th overall tag just won stop dogging him. Stubborn fans and media won’t let it go away. Apparently fans want to see assets mismanaged to the point where the next guy that is brought in to replace him is paid 30% more, while he inevitably eventually becomes somebody fans want traded for a bag of used mouth guards.
Andrei Kostitsyn as a failure? Hardly. It’s your fault for letting your imagination continually run wild. Is he a perfect player, and a perfect little boy scout? No, he isn’t, and he has hit slumps, sometimes for long stretches. Which player hasn’t? Stop comparing him to others in his draft class. We can play this game all day, and you’re sounding like a broken record. To boot, we can sing the Habs praises for drafting Pacioretty and Subban before other teams snatched them up, unless you would have preferred Riley Nash, Angelo Esposito, Logan MacMillan, Jakub Voracek, or Zach Hamill. If you’re going to remain in the camp that insists Kostitsyn is a drag on the team, at least be armed with a good reason other than “I watch the games and he’s poopy and he was drafted before Corey Perry and I hate him and he’s a bum”.