Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Habs trade a past problem for a better future


The Canadiens Andrei Kostitsyn gives traded brother Sergei a Russian-Redneck dictionary, after he was traded to the Nashville Predators on Tuesday.

Pierre Gauthier continues to set his legacy as GM of the Montreal Canadiens and we’re still not at the free agent deadline!

Late Tuesday, the Canadiens traded pending RFA Sergei Kostitsyn to the Nashville Predators for the rights to potential RFA center Dustin Boyd and UFA goaltender Dan Ellis. Future considerations are also involved and would come into play if either Nashville or Montreal sign the player(s) involved. In all likelihood that will be late-round draft picks.

This is clearly one of those deals where Kostitsyn supporters will say that he’ll play better outside of Montreal. Should Canadiens fans really care if he does? Yes we can expect calls for Gauthier’s head if Kostisyn has a career year in Music City, but you have to remember that it’s what he did in Montreal that counted.

For Canadiens fans, it should fall on what a player does in a Canadiens uniform. With Kostitsyn, it clearly wasn’t happening, in the Jacques Martin coaching system, since day one of training camp.


At one time he was highly touted as possibly being a top line playmaker, much as he had in the OHL. The pro lifestyle, especially that in Montreal, seemed to be too much of a distraction for him and quite frankly he was unwilling to grow up.

Those waiting for reaction from Kostitsyn on the trade should follow Puck Daddy’s Dmitry Chesnokov, who will be looking to talk to him tomorrow.

Clearly Gauthier has every intention of signing Ellis and likely Boyd as well. Why else would he make this deal? If he felt Ellis was out of reach, why not just get a draft pick or two instead?

In Ellis, the Canadiens get a solid backup goaltender, and one of the best available in the free agent market. If Carey Price were to falter or get injured at some point next season, Ellis would be more than capable to take the No. 1 spot.


His Twitter account has spiked in followers, since the deal was announced, which I guess shows the lack of popularity of the NHL in Nashville. He also interacts with fans as well, but chances are that his responses will be a bit more spread out now that he’s picked up the Montreal faithful.

On the deal Ellis tweeted, “Very excited about the trade! Its an honor to be part of a team with such great tradition and passion! Hope we can figure something out!”

He also has one of those unique little quirks found in a goalie, as demonstrated by his TV timeout routine.

Price point wise, he’ll probably take a slight cut from the $1.8 million he made in Nashville last season. It will obviously be less that what Jaroslav Halak would have been after, and the Canadiens get a goalie with good experience at a very reasonable price.

As for Dustin Boyd, Montreal gets what could be a younger, and more economically feasible version Dominic Moore or Glen Metropolit, who are both expected to go UFA on July 1.

Boyd was picked up by the Predators at the 2010 trade deadline from the Calgary Flames, and logged NHL seasons of 78 and 71 games the last two years. In each of the last two seasons he has potted 11 goals. By comparison, and to be fair he’s never played more than 56 games, Kostitsyn never reached double figures in goals in three seasons with Montreal.


Hockey’s Future’s most recent report on Boyd said, “His offensive skills have been touted from an early age, and have come out at various stages of his development. Dustin has very good hockey sense, and has been reliable in his own end. He has all the tools to become a solid second line contributor.”

HabsInsideOut.com cites McKeens’s Hockey’s take on him as, “A slick, industrious playmaker with good poise and vision ... agile skater, generates deceptive quickness from bent over stride, though could use a stronger top gear ... makes sharp cuts/spins with the puck and possesses a nice wide stickhandling range ... not overly tall yet can still separate bigger opponents from the puck thanks to solid balance and lower-body strength ...getting stronger on the puck and more effective in traffic will allow him to better exploit a good shot and sharp finishing touch ... has steadily improved his defensive reads and positioning ...”

Boyd is also a former Canadian WJC teammate (2006) of Canadiens forwards Benoit Pouliot and Tom Pyatt, and former Habs Kyle Chipchura and Guillaume Latendresse.


If the offers are where they likely will be for both players, the Canadiens wind up with a better cap hit on two players than they would have by keeping Halak and Kostitsyn with a bit of room left.

Once again, this will be one of those defining moves by Pierre Gauthier that media and fans will look back on at the end of the 2010-11 season.

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