After signing Patric Hornqvist and Roman Josi to new contracts, Nashville Predators fans were enjoying a rather smooth offseason thus far.
That was before word came out of Russia that Predators winger Sergei Kostitsyn is in contract negotiations with Avangard Omsk of the KHL.
Kostitsyn played for Avangard during last year’s NHL lockout, recording 28 points in only 27 games. Reports out of Russia also claim that David Poile would have no problem letting Kostitsyn walk.
The 26-year-old Belarusian had been a pleasant surprise in his first two seasons with Nashville. The moment the NHL locked its doors, however, Sergei has been nothing but bad news. While playing in the KHL last season, he was quoted by Russian newspaper Sport-Express saying he hopes that the lockout lasts followed by claiming, “I couldn’t get used to (American) mentality. They are totally different people from us.”
When play resumed, Kostitsyn only tallied three goals in 46 games. There was then the infamous shift against the Edmonton Oilers that caught the eye of the national media. Kostitsyn gave up on the play, allowing Sam Gagner to break in on a 2-on-1 which lead to a goal.
Predators coach Barry Trotz had him benched for the incident and told Josh Cooper of The Tennessean, “I can’t give you a logical explanation for an illogical event.”
Despite Kostitsyn’s rough year, I cannot imagine this being a good thing for the Predators. Nashville is very slim at the wing and at some points were forced to roll with Taylor Beck, Rich Clune, Matt Halischuk and Brandon Yip as top six wingers.
Also, not much of anything went right for the Preds last season and the problem obviously goes beyond one bad shift and a homesick Belarusian. He is usually accountable defensively and possesses a knack for scoring, something Nashville so desperately lacks.
Kostitsyn still has one year left on his contract and there is a stern agreement between the two leagues that would presumably block any type of contract. If the KHL does not adhere to the agreement, Russia could receive sanctions from the IIHF.
With the upcoming Olympics taking place in Sochi, I doubt that’s a road the KHL wishes to travel.