Andrei Kostitsyn had 20 goals and 45 points in 82 games last season. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Montreal Canadiens left winger Andrei Kostitsyn's recent remarks to a Belarussian reporter have stirred speculation he’ll become trade bait.
Kostitsyn complained about his role under Canadiens coach Jacques Martin. He claimed his relationship with Martin wasn't good, that he wasn't capable of playing his best on the third or fourth line, and accused Martin of turning a deaf ear to his complaints.
While Kostitsyn might have a point regarding his role last season, complaining about it through the press a month before training camp hasn't earned him sympathy with the Montreal media.
Pat Hickey of The Montreal Gazette feels Kostitsyn's comments have made his position with the Canadiens untenable and called on GM Pierre Gauthier to start shopping the disgruntled winger.
Hickey suggested the Phoenix Coyotes, Colorado Avalanche and New York Islanders could use Kostitsyn's $3.25 million salary to get above the salary cap floor next season. Hickey also wondered if the Nashville Predators would be interested in reuniting Andrei with younger brother Sergei, who the Canadiens shipped to Nashville last June.
It remains to be seen whether Gauthier will attempt to deal Kostitsyn before the season opens in October, but the winger's comments and attitude pose a risk to team chemistry. It would be best to move him now, but Gauthier may decide to wait and see how Kostitsyn performs once training camp opens next month.
Trading Kostitsyn, a proven 20-goal, 40-point player, would hurt Montreal's offensive depth this season, which will also factor into any decision.
Regardless, Kostitsyn is a UFA after 2011-12 and his comments suggest this coming season will be his last with the Canadiens if he isn’t traded.
If Kostitsyn is shopped before the season opens, the Anaheim Ducks and Winnipeg Jets are two other potential destinations.
If Teemu Selanne retires, the Ducks will need to find a replacement and though Kostitsyn mostly plays left wing, he can also play on the right side.
Reports out of Winnipeg earlier this summer claimed Jets management wanted to bolster the team’s scoring depth, so Kostitsyn would be a fit there. And it sounds like the Jets won’t have much difficulty finding players to swap, either.
The Winnipeg Free Press recently reported Bob McCown of Toronto's Fan 590 radio station claimed he had “first hand knowledge of no less than three members” of the Jets were actively trying to get out of Winnipeg, claiming one significant factor was the lack of upscale homes in the city.
Jets captain Andrew Ladd was quick to respond, saying none of the teammates he's spoken with indicated they wanted out, but added if anyone did, “we don't want them anyway.”
This report will fuel speculation currently unsigned RFA defenseman Zach Bogosian is among the three supposedly unhappy Jets.
Earlier this month, Bogosian said he was looking forward to playing in Winnipeg and claimed his contract talks were going well.
If Jets management does ship out any unhappy players, it'll have to ensure to take back enough salary to remain above the cap floor. Currently, the Jets have $48.9 million invested in 23 players for 2011-12.
SENATORS WANT TO TRADE DEFENSEMAN
Staying above the salary cap floor will also be an issue for the Ottawa Senators if they decide to trade a defenseman before the start of the season.
The Ottawa Sun's Bruce Garrioch recently reported there was talk around the league the Senators, with nine defensemen vying for seven roster spots, will try to deal one before players report for physicals next month.
Garrioch cited “league sources” claiming the Senators tried to move Sergei Gonchar and Filip Kuba during the June draft, but couldn't find any takers.
Given Gonchar's poor performance and season-ending concussion, Garrioch believes Kuba is the top candidate to be moved, though the Senators would have to take back salary in order to remain above the cap floor.
Kuba carries a more affordable contract (one year remaining at $3.7 million) than Gonchar ($5.5 million per for two years), but was hampered by injuries the past two seasons, which would explain why the Senators couldn't move him in June.
A more marketable option might be Brian Lee, who is only 24 and carries an affordable $875,000 contract, though Garrioch noted Lee was a capable replacement player last season and still has potential the Senators may want to hold on to.
Rumor Roundup appears Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Eishockey News and Kukla's Korner.