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Although our focus this month has primarily been on stat projections, there
is plenty more to discuss when it comes to the Habs this offseason.  Last
week, we heard that Andrei Kostitsyn sounded off in a local Belarusian paper
discussing his frustration with his situation and head coach Jacques Martin. 
Our writers weigh in with their thoughts on what has transpired.

Since the comments were published, a lot of the discussion has revolved
around his immediate future with the club.  With that in mind, the
following question was posed to each writer:

Given the recent comments from Andrei Kostitsyn, do the Habs need to trade
him before the start of the season?

Below are the responses.

Matt Dilworth: I think it would prove foolish to try and deal
Andrei from a position of weakness, as undoubtedly all rival GM’s heard his
anti-Martin comments in the news.  But in light of this being the month for mad
speculation, I’m not convinced that there is much to be made of Andrei’s
comments to begin with.  Despite glossing over his own underachievement, Andrei
depicts his situation accurately, and this certainly can’t be the first time
Martin has been criticized for the way he coaches.  The only thing that I think
would force a trade at this point in the year would be a) Martin taking major
offense to the comments and choosing to make Andrei’s life miserable, or b) the
Montreal media blowing the situation out of proportion such that any reference
to Kostitsyn inevitably leads back to his comments, and thus becoming a
persistent problem.  Unless Kostitsyn starts to have a detrimental effect on the
team’s play or in the locker room, I say keep him.

George Kouniakis: The Habs certainly do NOT need to trade him
before the start of the season.  First of all, it is never wise to trade from a
position of weakness, which is the position in which the Habs would be perceived
to be if they were to trade him now.  Secondly, the Habs are a better team with
him than without him.  With the addition of Erik Cole, and the emergence of Max
Pacioretty, David Desharnais, and Lars Eller, the Canadiens could have three
lines capable of producing offensively.  Without Kostitsyn, their depth is
reduced, and they become a much weaker team in the event of any injuries to
their top six.  When Sergei Kostitsyn was causing the team problems during the
preseason a couple of years ago, many thought his fate as a Canadien was
sealed.  And while it is true that Sergei did ultimately get traded, he was
dealt in the following offseason, showing that the current management is capable
of avoiding knee-jerk reactions to personnel management.  Andrei might not be
long for Montreal, but unless a good offer presents itself, there is no reason
to rush into a deal that will leave the Habs weaker due to his absence.

Brian La Rose: Do they have to?  No.  Should
they perhaps be a little more receptive towards considering any offers made for
him?  I’d say yes to that.  These comments, if transcribed properly
and in context, suggest to me barring some sort of breakout season, he’ll likely
move on as a free agent after 2011-12.  If you’re in the camp of get
something for your pending UFA’s, why not get a head start?  Most teams are
still in roster building mode at this stage and aren’t as locked in with their
rosters as they may be a couple of months from now which means there could be
some opportunities now that won’t be available when the season begins. 
Yes, as George notes above, it’s dealing from a position of weakness but more
often than not, trading young players who haven’t lived up to their lofty draft
status is going to be from that position anyway which mitigates that concern for
me a bit.  If a move that makes sense presents itself, Pierre Gauthier
would be wise to jump on it.  If one doesn’t come up, keep him around as he
most certainly can still help the team and re-assess the situation later on. 

Louis Moustakas: No. Kostitsyn’s comments were no doubt ill
advised, but it is hardly unique to have a European player venting to local
media.  Beyond that, it is not surprising to hear that his relationship
with Jacques Martin is a rocky one.  Not exactly earth shattering stuff. 
Of course Kostitsyn should have kept his feelings to himself and not exacerbate
his relationship with the coach further.  But his comments do little to
change his standing in the dressing room and he certainly did not take any
swipes at his teammates.  Assuming Martin handles the situation
intelligently at the opening of camp, this will be nothing more than a tempest
in a teapot.  

Mandy P.: I don’t think it’s necessary to get rid of Kostitsyn
because of an obscure, foreign-language article from which his comments may or
may not have been taken out of context.  Nor do I think the Habs management
would even do that.  He’s got a one-year contract.  If the statements
made regarding Kostitsyn and Martin are correct, I’m sure management will
address the situation, if they haven’t done that already.  Let him play out
the year, see what he does, and re-evaluate next spring.

Michael Richard: By now every Habs fan knows what to expect
when it comes to Andrei Kostitsyn.  He was a highly touted prospect, part of the
famous 2003 draft year, but has yet to fulfill the potential everyone thinks he
has.  He’s now entering his fifth full season with the Canadiens at 26 years old
and I believe he has plateaued with his offensive numbers.  He’s only averaged
43 points in his four full NHL seasons with his best year being his first with
52.  You combine this with his turbulent relationship with a coach who seems to
be going nowhere and I think his trade value is not going to get any higher than
it is now.  I would not be heartbroken if he was traded as long as they received
an NHL-ready player in return.

Norm Szcyrek: Kostitsyn is not long for a Habs uniform.  He
appears to be a player with high potential and although he has played for
multiple coaches in Montreal, he has not quite hit that potential.  Despite
a decent start last season in the first 10 games, coach Martin told the media he
was playing well because it was a contract year.  I believe that message
got back to Andrei and it affected his confidence.  He could use a change
of scenery but will the Habs trade him before the season ends?

For those wondering who is next up in our fantasy series, Andrei Markov’s
profile will be the tenth player to be profiled.  Click the link below for our archive of players
posted thus far.