Sergei Kostitsyn on the outs with Montreal

1-kostitsyn.jpgThe last thing any team wants to have in the playoffs is a distraction. The problem the Montreal Canadiens face is that they’ve got a distraction on their team and that distraction also has a brother that plays on the same team.  Such is the case with Sergei Kostitsyn and his brother Andrei.

It started after the team’s game day skate before Game 3 of their series with the Pittsburgh Penguins:

When backup goalie Carey Price, dripping with sweat, got to the Montreal dressing room after staying on late at the team’s game-day skate with others who won’t start Game 3 of their playoff series against Pittsburgh, fresh-looking Sergei Kostitsyn was walking by.

“Why weren’t you on the ice?” an angry Price asked Kostitsyn, who also won’t play.

Kostitsyn mumbled something and kept walking, and Price called after him “too good?”

Sergei Kostitsyn hasn’t played since Game 5 of the first round and to say he’s been in and out of the Habs perpetual doghouse would be being kind. While getting stories from the Toronto Sun may seem like sensationalist reporting, and for all intents and purposes it could be, having something come from TSN’s Bob McKenzie is something else entirely.

The bottom line, though, is that Sergei Kostitsyn has no real future with the team. But he won’t be officially banished right now because that would be a distraction in the middle of a playoff series and besides, the Canadiens don’t want do anything publicly to further diminish a clearly diminishing asset they’ll try to move in the off season.

But the fact he wasn’t skating with the team today at the game-day skate tells you everything you need to know about his status with the team.

He doesn’t have any.

Ouch.  This puts Sergei’s brother Andrei in a very tough spot because he is being counted on to play big minutes and be a substantial contributor to the team. If these games and nonsense and distractions with Sergei persist, however, having him be a distraction might not be a big deal for much longer.

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    Andreychuk confident that Stamkos will re-sign in Tampa Bay

    Tampa Bay Lightning forward Steven Stamkos (91) competes in the hardest shot competition at the NHL hockey All-Star game skills competition Saturday, Jan. 30, 2016, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
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    Former Tampa Bay Lightning player Dave Andreychuk is now a member of the club’s senior management team, and he’s confident that the Bolts won’t lose Steven Stamkos to unrestricted free agency this summer.

    “Steven is going to come back. He’s going to be fine,” Andreychuk told Hockey Central today, per Sportsnet.ca.

    “I still believe that Steve Yzerman is trying whatever he can do to sign Steven Stamkos, and I believe it will happen.”

    Andreychuk — whose official title is VP Corporate & Community Affairs — is not part of the Lightning’s hockey operations, but presumably he speaks with Yzerman, the general manager, from time to time.

    Of course, the challenge for Yzerman goes well beyond re-signing the captain. Even with an owner that’s willing to spend to the cap, it simply may not be possible to keep Stamkos, Victor Hedman, Ben Bishop, Nikita Kucherov, Ondrej Palat, Tyler Johnson, Alex Killorn, and Jonathan Drouin.

    All eight of those players need new contracts this summer or next.

    Stamkos, Hedman, and Bishop are pending UFAs, while the other five are pending RFAs.

    Report: Forsling signs with Blackhawks

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    A report out of Sweden says that defenseman Gustav Forsling has signed an entry-level contract with the Chicago Blackhawks.

    For the past two seasons, Forsling has been with Linkopings HC of the Swedish Hockey League. In 2015-16, the 19-year-old had six goals and 15 assists in 48 games.

    A fifth-round pick of the Canucks in 2014, Forsling was a star at the 2015 World Juniors, where he had eight points (3G, 5A) in seven games for Sweden. He was traded to Chicago in return for Adam Clendening.

    “He’s an offensive defenseman that plays very well on the power play and has a big shot,” said Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman upon Forsling’s acquisition.

    Assuming the report is accurate, Forsling can probably count on starting his North American career in the AHL.

    The Blackhawks are hoping to graduate Rockford d-man Ville Pokka to the NHL next season.

    Related: Three major challenges facing the Chicago Blackhawks

    Hendricks to captain U.S. at Worlds for second straight year

    OSTRAVA, CZECH REPUBLIC - MAY 01:  Matt Hendricks of USA celebrates goal of his team-mates during the IIHF World Championship group B match between USA and Finland at CEZ Arena on May 1, 2015 in Ostrava, Czech Republic.  (Photo by Matej Divizna/Getty Images)
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    Last year, Matt Hendricks captained Team USA to bronze at the World Hockey Championships, marking just the second time in the last 11 years the U.S. had medaled.

    So, why not go back to Hendricks again?

    That’s what USA Hockey opted to do on Wednesday, announcing the Edmonton forward would reprise his role as team captain for the 2016 tournament, to be held in Moscow and Saint Petersburg.

    Columbus’ Nick Foligno and Arizona’s Connor Murphy were named alternate captains.

    Hendricks had a pretty solid tournament for the U.S. last year, scoring two goals and three points in 10 games — an effort made more impressive by the fact it was his first time representing the U.S. internationally.

    The U.S. gets its ’16 Worlds campaign underway on Friday, with a game against Canada at 11:30 a.m. ET. The game will be broadcast live on NBCSN, and a live stream will be available on NBC Sports’ Live Extra.

    Prized Flyers prospect Provorov says he’s NHL-ready

    Ivan Provorov
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    Philly had one rookie defenseman burst onto the scene this year, as Shayne Gostisbehere‘s stellar play earned him a Calder Trophy nomination.

    Next year, another freshman blueliner will look to make his own mark.

    Ivan Provorov, the club’s first-round pick (seventh overall) at the 2015 draft, says he’s primed to make the Flyers’ roster for 2016-17 — despite the fact he’ll be just 19 years old when the campaign begins.

    “I think I’m ready,” he said, per the Inquirer. “But we’ll see what happens. I think I’m going to have another good summer and come ready in September.”

    The Flyers have been high on Provorov from the minute they drafted him. He signed his entry-level deal a week after being selected, and impressed onlookers during his time at prospect and training camps.

    “He showed us his play is efficient in all areas with and without the puck,” head coach Dave Hakstol said, per CSN Philly. “I thought his competitiveness was very good throughout the two days.

    “He was focused and relaxed. He is a composed young man with maturity and confidence. Those are very good traits in a young player.”

    This year, Provorov — who’s still playing with Brandon in the WHL playoffs — racked up a whopping 21 goals and 73 points in just 62 games. The potential of adding Provorov’s offensive abilities to a blueline that already features a pretty skilled guy in Gostisbehere is tantalizing.

    But, as Flyers GM Ron Hextall points out, Provorov is going to have to beat out an incumbent, and won’t just be gifted a spot on the Philadelphia roster.

    “They have to come in and be better than someone else that’s here,” Hextall said of young players looking to crack the lineup. “If that happens, we proved last year that we’ll make room in our roster for a young player that proves to us that he’s ready to play at this level and make our team better.”