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?
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.