The Edmonton Oilers have agreed to terms with KHL Omsk defenseman Anton Belov, the club announced on Thursday.
Belov, 26, has spent the last five seasons with Omsk, scoring a career-high 26 points in 46 games last season.
The 6-foot-4, 215-pound blueliner recently he represented Team Russia at the 2013 World Hockey Championships, finishing with four points in eight games and a plus-8 rating.
Belov was believed to be pursued by a number of NHL clubs recently, as Yahoo!’s Dmitry Chesnokov reports the Pittsburgh Penguins were also in the running.
With Omsk, Belov served as an alternate captain (to former Los Angeles King Alexander Frolov) and played with a number of NHLers during the lockout, including Sergei Kostitsyn and Nikita Nikitin.
(Image courtesy Elite Prospects)
Nashville Predators head coach Barry Trotz had a strong critique of two players – Craig Smith and Sergei Kostitsyn – during his Sunday press conference.
“We expected production from Sergei and Craig Smith and we got none,” Trotz told the Examiner.com.
“Both those guys, we were looking at them to be top-six, top-seven forwards and we got no production. Craig Smith and Sergei were on power plays all year. I did it to try to get them going. I tried different things to get those guys going.
“I knew that we needed them because we score by committee and we had some committee members that didn’t get ‘er done.”
The 26-year-old Kostitsyn, who has one more year left on his two-year $6 million contact after this season, had just three goals and 15 points in 46 games.
Smith, 23, experienced a downturn in his second NHL season, scoring only four times and 12 points.
Those two players were part of the overwhelming problem, and that was the Predators, ravaged by injuries, had trouble scoring goals.
They finished at the bottom of the NHL, along with the Florida Panthers, in goals-for per game at 2.27.
A little over a week ago, Sergei Kostitsyn was in the doghouse after a mental lapse resulted in a shorthanded goal and cost the Predators two key points against the Edmonton Oilers.
If you missed the incident, you can see it below:
Nashville Predators coach Barry Trotz was at a loss for what happened.
“I can’t give you a logical explanation for an illogical event,” he said and was passionate about his decision to make Kostitsyn a healthy scratch in the Predators’ following game.
But if you thought that might led to a bigger riff between Kostitsyn and his coach, that hasn’t happened. Instead, Kostitsyn has bounced back and Trotz was back to singing his praises following Nashville’s rematch against the Oilers.
“Sergei is almost the smartest guy defensively we have, if not the smartest,” Trotz told the Tennessean after Kostitsyn led the Predators’ to victory with a goal and an assist in Monday’s 3-2 win over Edmonton.
“He has good awareness around him, he has a great stick, he holds ice and doesn’t drift and get sucked to the puck when he doesn’t need to. I have a lot of faith in him defensively, and killing penalties he’s the same way.”
Kostitsyn now has 13 points and a team-leading plus-nine rating in 31 games this season. Nashville and the San Jose Sharks are tied for eighth place in the Western Conference, but the Predators have played in two extra games.
Nashville Predators coach Barry Trotz has confirmed reports that Sergei Kostitsyn will be a healthy scratch on Tuesday when the Preds take on the Blue Jackets in Columbus.
“Absolutely not,” Trotz told The Tennessean when asked if Kostitsyn would be in the lineup on Tuesday. “That’s just accountability as a player to the coach, to the group that you have to be accountable.
“He wasn’t accountable there, so he’s not playing.”
Trotz, of course, is referring to the incident during Sunday’s 3-2 loss to Edmonton in which Kostitsyn went for a line change that led to Edmonton scoring on a 2-on-1.
In case you haven’t seen it yet:
Kostitsyn was apologetic and remorseful following the game:
“I made a mistake. I went to change, I should have backchecked, but didn’t see the second guy was coming there. Even if it was a one-on-one, I should go back, it doesn’t matter if I was tired. I should have gone back and pressured him from behind.”
Trotz, meanwhile, was flummoxed at what transpired:
“I can’t give you a logical explanation for an illogical event.”
Parking Kostitsyn in the press box is no small decision for an offensively-starved Nashville team.
He sits first on the team in plus-minus rating (+7), fourth on the team in assists, with nine, and led the team in scoring two years ago (with 50 points.)
Sergei Kostitsyn will take a seat in the press box and think about what he did.
According to TSN’s Bob McKenzie, the Nashville forward will be a healthy scratch Tuesday in Columbus — a clear punishment for pulling up on the back-check and heading to the Predators’ bench Sunday in Edmonton, with the Oilers going on to score shorthanded on a 2-on-1.
Kostitsyn, 25, admitted after the game that he made a mistake, but apparently that wasn’t enough for Nashville coach Barry Trotz, who was left understandably flummoxed.
“I can’t give you a logical explanation for an illogical event,” said Trotz.
The Preds (11-12-6), currently 11th place in the Western Conference, have lost three straight and are in danger of missing the playoffs for the first time since 2008-09.