Andrei Kostitsyn is on the move again.
According to a report from Russian news website Sports.ru, Kostitsyn has agreed to a one-year deal with Traktor Chelyabinsk of the KHL — the same team that employs Washington prospect Evgeni Kuznetsov and longtime NHLer Jan Bulis.
The move will be Kostisyn’s third of the calendar year. He started out the season in Montreal, scoring 12G-12A-24PTS in 53 games, before being shipped to Nashville at the trade deadline.
His time with the Predators was tumultuous. Flashes of strong play (he scored 12 points in 19 regular season game and tied for the team in postseason goals, with three) were largely overshadowed by the broken curfew incident in the Western Conference semifinals, an incident that also involved Alexander Radulov — who has since returned to the KHL, signing with CSKA Moscow.
By signing in Russia, Kostitsyn also ends the brief family reunion he and brother Sergei had in Nashville. The younger Kostitsyn re-upped with the Preds this offseason, signing a two-year, $6 million deal.
For the most part, Russian-born (and other European) stars tend to bolt for more lucrative contracts with the KHL. (Alex Radulov is the most convenient example.) Yet there is a smaller trend forming in the background: depth players – some even from North America – are beginning to view the KHL as viable option as well.
Ken Wiebe reports that (former) Winnipeg Jet Tim Stapleton has agreed in principle to a deal with the KHL’s Dinamo-Minsk. Stapleton had easily the best season of his young career in 2011-12, setting career-highs for goals (11), assists (16), points (27) and games played (63).
As mentioned earlier this off-season, Stapleton joins a lower-level exodus that also includes Mats Zuccarello, Erik Christensen, Sami Lepisto and Curtis Sanford. Even former Carolina Hurricanes coach Paul Maurice decided to give the upstart professional league a shot.
It’s not exactly the sort of raid that will leave NHL teams trembling, but it’s interesting to see marginal players get more bargaining power than they’ve likely ever enjoyed.
Since he’s on his way out of the league for at least a little while, I thought I’d leave you with this random AP photo where it looks like Jeff Skinner is giving him a “DDT.”
Given how much they spent to acquire him, it’s no surprise the Nashville Predators want to keep Paul Gaustad.
And according to The Tennessean, Gaustad would like to stay.
That’s the word on Friday as Josh Cooper spoke to Gaustad’s agent, Michael Gorman, about what the future has in store for the soon-to-be-UFA.
“We have spoken with the team. Both parties are interested and looking at options for the future,” Gorman said. “I know that Nashville is interested in keeping Paul and Paul definitely enjoyed his time in Nashville, so it’s our intention to see if we can get something done, and there’s still plenty of time for that.”
Gaustad, 30, was acquired from Buffalo at the deadline for a 2012 first-round pick and, while effective, didn’t exactly play a huge role with the Preds. He only averaged 13:31 of ice time (down from 15:05 in Buffalo) and was often centering the fourth line. That said, Gaustad did win 58 percent of his faceoffs with the Predators in the regular season (60 percent in the playoffs) and scored two points in 10 playoff games.
Looking ahead, it appears Gaustad has the opportunity to play a more prominent role in Nashville. The Preds have already severed ties with Alex Radulov and could lose a number of other players up front. While Gaustad’s unlikely to surpass top two centers Mike Fisher and David Legwand on the depth chart, he could slot in nicely as a third line guy.
Gaustad’s in the final season of a four-year, $9.2 million deal signed with the Sabres in 2008.
According to Puck Daddy’s Dmitry Chesnokov, KHL powerhouse CSKA Moscow has acquired the negotiating rights of Alexander Radulov from his former KHL team, Salavat Yulaev.
The move doesn’t come as much of a surprise given CSKA has publicly stated — for weeks — that they intended to pursue the ex-Predator.
On June 4, a report surfaced from Sport-Express that CSKA was prepared to pay a league-record amount for Radulov’s services for the upcoming campaign (CSKA is also rumored to be interested in Washington Capitals sniper Alex Semin, also for big bucks.)
Here’s what the Edmonton Journal wrote earlier about the club’s recent financial windfall:
Now that Rosneft, one of Russia’s oil giants, has taken over full sponsorship of CSKA Moscow, it gave general manager Sergei Fedorov carte blanche to go after the best talent available.
The fun doesn’t stop there. Earlier this year, the KHL club inked Igor Radulov, the former Chicago Blackhawk…that also happens to be Alexander’s older brother.
The recent exodus of NHLers to Russia continued on Friday, but with a twist — this time, it’s a coach.
According to various reports, former Carolina Hurricanes and Toronto Maple Leafs bench boss Paul Maurice has agreed to coach Metallurg Magnitogorsk of the KHL. He’ll be joined by former ‘Canes goalie coach Tom Barasso, who was recently replaced in Carolina by Greg Stefan.
TSN’s Darren Dreger reports there may have been a European bidding war for Maurice’s services. ZSC Zurich — the team Bob Hartley left to take the head coaching job in Calgary — had expressed interest, but it appears Metallurg put together a superior offer (rumored to be a one-year, $2 million deal.)
Maurice — who took the ‘Canes to an Eastern Conference and Cup finals — is the second big coup for Metallurg in recent days. The team also inked former Rangers forward Mats Zuccarello, the fourth NHLers to move to Russia this June. The others are Erik Christensen, Sami Lepisto and Curtis Sanford, with offers apparently being drawn up for Alex Semin and Alex Radulov.