Thursday, December 13, 2007

Gainey's formula: Keep Prices stable, increase Kosts

This team still has the same Price, but Kosts just rose by 50%. Not a very good pun at all and an even worse economic formula.

Sometimes I think all the moves made in the last 12 months have been done to help tired and bored writers in the Montreal hockey media. I mean, keeping Price up? signing Kostopoulos? getting rid of people with boring names (Johnson, Downey)? calling up 19-year old Kostitsyn? What else could it be?

Just wait, you'll see the headlines tomorrow...

As a hockey move, bringing up Sergei Kostitsyn is pure desperation. It is a move made of exasperation and hope rather than calculation and assessment. Of course, it could work. But that doesn't change the fact that it shouldn't.

Why shouldn't it?

In my opinion, Sergei Kostitsyn will not be an impact player at the NHL level for a few years yet. His brother took time to adjust to the AHL then the NHL, however, I think someone like Plekanec is a more appropriate comparator. For him, a second season with the Bulldogs saw great improvements, a third saw excellence and then another year and a half in the NHL to get his stride in Montreal.

Sergei Kostitsyn is a good prospect but not phenomenal. He may be able to contribute on a top 2 line, but should not turn the whole operation around.

Too harsh?

Had he not been playing in Hamilton this fall already, maybe. But, while Sergei has scored down there, the team has not flourished. I realise it's a lot to ask a rookie AHLer to turn around a team's fortunes, but you'd hope he was able to if you were expecting a watershed at NHL level.

And, while in practice, calling up the best performers on the farm team when there are injuries in the NHL is very good business. It motivates those Bulldogs to perform so that when their chance comes, they will be in position to take it. I am wary at the moment because I am question whether the motives behind the promotion are limited to an NHL road vacation. You see, I think Sergei could be a good player, just like Plekanec, so long as he is aged in the right way. I would suggest that means a year minimum in Hamilton, possibly two.

As for the Habs

I think balancing patience with prospects and a strategy for winning should be balanced very carefully. Carey Price has already been thrust into a number 1B role (a la Thibault, Blackburn, Fleury) and it is thought that only his maturity is keping his head level. We would truly be spoiled if another one of our prospects shows this kind of maturity at 19. I'm betting he's not quite as cool a customer as Carey Price. If Kostitsyn (S) is here to play, it should be understood that the rest of the team must be there to help him, rather than the other way around.

It will be difficult to balance the two objectives, but at the same time it is absolutely vital if we are to rebuild properly instead of spiral around in 8th for eternity.

I, like Gainey, hope this works...


After completing this piece on Sergei Kostitsyn, i realised I may have written on a very naive view of what's going on. Not wanting to delete the whole text, I've added some extra thoughts here:

1) Could Sergei be up to show the goods (so to speak) to another GM or scout?

2) Could Sergei be here for a trial before the goods (perhaps his brother) are traded away?

3) Could a Mark Recchi-style demotion be the next play for someone?

These are more intriguing options, aren't they? Any thoughts?

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