Predators sign Sergei Kostitsyn to one-year, $2.5M deal

Sergei Kostitsyn’s last contract with the Nashville Predators was a classic example of two sides needing something and coming to a fairly easy compromise. Kostitsyn’s career was in a tailspin after some ugly times with the Montreal Canadiens; it seemed like he had one foot in the NHL and the other foot in the KHL (or worse, the minors). The Predators badly needed a creative offensive talent to accompany a roster mostly built around worker bees with defense ranking as the first thing on their minds.

Maybe Kostitsyn has some warts on his game, but there should be little doubt that the deal worked out nicely for both sides. Kostitsyn reclaimed his place as a useful NHL-level forward while the Predators benefited from far and away the best offensive output of his short career as he scored 23 goals and 50 points.

This looked like the beginning of a beautiful friendship until GM David Poile’s qualifying offer snafu threw things out of whack. Poile easily re-signed some less prominent players who didn’t receive qualifying offers on Thursday, but it seemed like the Kostitsyn situation could get messy (some might say that things tend to get messy when Sergei is involved).

Ultimately, it seems like things could have been much worse, though. The Predators reportedly signed Kostitsyn to a reasonable one-year, $2.5 million contract to avoid further headaches. That seems like a slam dunk on first impact, but one must remember that $2.5 million means far more to Nashville than it does to some of the league’s more freewheeling teams. Even so, Jeremy Gover agrees that it was an acceptable deal in the grand scheme of things.

Kostitsyn deserved a raise.

But the raise he got was a lot more substantial than what he would have gotten had the Preds filed the paperwork correctly. Any restricted free agent (with Kostitsyn’s pay scale) given a qualifying offer is set to see a 10% raise. Instead, what he got was a 450% raise.

This begs the question: is one good season worth $2.5 million? Patric Hornqvist had one good season back in 2009-10 when he scored a team high 30 goals and he was rewarded with a new three year deal worth $9.2 million total. So, if Kostitsyn signed for less than that, is it really that bad?

(snip)

In the end, I’d have to say this is a good deal for Nashville. Sure, since they could’ve gotten one more season out of him at far less (had the ruling gone in the team’s favor), it stings a little. But, at the same time, given what his value would’ve been on the open market (and what Hornqvist got in a similar situation), a short-term deal at $2.5 million doesn’t seem that bad.

The best part, to me, is the term. A player like Kostitsyn might allow his mind to wander if he received a five-year contract, but dangling the carrot of another contract year in front of his face should keep him motivated through an 82-game season. The 24-year-old forward is still a ways away from unrestricted free agency, but maybe he could complete his restricted years with Nashville if he comes through in 2011-12 like he did in 2010-11.

Milbury, Jones: Tkachuk walked the walk; Kings’ response was embarrassing

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The Los Angeles Kings got revenge on Matthew Tkachuk and the Calgary Flames on the scoreboard on Wednesday. But was that 4-1 win enough?

Mike Milbury and Keith Jones provided a lengthy “overtime” segment on NBCSN that brought about some really fascinating takes on the situation between Tkachuk and the Flames versus Drew Doughty and the Los Angeles Kings.

Watch the full video above, as it’s worth your time.

A few interesting lines if you’re (tsk tsk) skipping it:

Milbury: Believes that Doughty didn’t “do enough,” noting that star players sometimes have to stick up for themselves. On the other hand, Tkachuk showed that he can “walk the walk.”

He also gave the Kings a “C-, D+ if not worse” for their overall response. “Fight your own battles,” Milbury said of Doughty.

Jones disagreed to some extent, believing that Kings teammates won’t look at Doughty differently. But Jake Muzzin? He believes that Muzzin’s frequent defensive partner (at least over the years, maybe not this season) backing down from a fight was an embarrassment.

Spicy stuff.

For what it’s worth, Drew Doughty has one career fight (against Joe Thornton [!] in 2011-2) while Jake Muzzin’s lone bout came against Andrew Desjardins in 2012-13, according to Hockey Fights. Does that mean they shouldn’t have dropped the gloves on Wednesday? Milbury and Jones seem to believe that they should have answered the bell.

For more, check out a collection of the early violent moments and Tkachuk’s attempted shot at Doughty. The Kings win is summarized in greater detail here.

Measure of revenge: Kings delay clinching efforts for Flames, Blues

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Deep down, the Los Angeles Kings probably realize that their season will end on game 82. Still, they kept their slim playoff hopes alive on Wednesday night … and managed to spite a team they’re growing to hate.

OK, maybe the hate is almost totally focused upon Matthew Tkachuk, yet the disdain for that talented-but-tormenting rookie was palpable.

It didn’t feel like the Kings exacted physical revenge on Tkachuk, but beating his team 4-1 ranked as classic scoreboard vengeance. With that, the Calgary Flames (and by extension the St. Louis Blues) will need to wait to clinch a playoff berth.

Now, as much as tonight was about Tkachuk, the focus was also on a pugnacious player who once dazzled for the Flames: Jarome Iginla.

In what might be Iginla’s final visit to Calgary – at least as an active NHL player – he was one of the best players on the ice. His fitting curtain call included a “Gordie Howe hat trick” with a spirited fight, an assist and a goal.

Seriously, that fight with Deryk Engelland:

That goal included a bit of luck, but hey …

Iginla was named the first star of the contest, and cameras captured his big smile in enjoying a special night. For all the nastiness of that game, it was refreshing to see such a heartwarming moment.

For more on the violence, check out this post on the early stuff and this one on Tkachuk’s missed missile launch on Drew Doughty.

Kings and Canucks will square off in first NHL exhibition games in China

graphic via NHL
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It’s official: the NHL will hold preseason games in China before next season.

The league made the announcement on Wednesday night: the Los Angeles Kings and Vancouver Canucks will play two exhibitions: one on Sept. 21 (Shanghai) and Sept. 23 (Beijing). How cool is that?

“It is a privilege and an honor for the L.A. Kings to represent the National Hockey League in China as part of these two games against the Vancouver Canucks,” Kings president Luc Robitaille said. “Growing the game of hockey is something we take great pride in and it is a big priority for our hockey club and AEG as a whole. This will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for our players and our staff, and we are looking forward to the games taking place in two tremendous facilities in two remarkable cities.”

The press conference inspired some jokes tonight.

Some of the best bits came in roping in … Kobe Bryant and David Beckham?

Alrighty then.

Click here for more details.

 

Video: Drew Doughty (mostly) avoids massive Matthew Tkachuk hit

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Hockey is such a fast sport that it’s probably not so easy to make someone your “target.” Instead, a big hit often comes down to the right combination of circumstance and timing.

Still, there’s no denying that Matthew Tkachuk is gunning for Drew Doughty (and the Kings are gunning for Tkachuk) on Wednesday.

Doughty isn’t oblivious to that notion, either, as you can see him avoid what looked like a pretty terrifying hit above.

We’ve already covered the early violence in this game, and it’s quite possible that there will be more carnage going forward. Stay tuned.