Monday, February 27, 2012

Habs at the Deadline: Trade Assessment

As you’ve probably already heard, Andrei Kostitsyn, the Habs highest drafted forward (10th overall 2003) in the past 17 years, was traded today.  Kostitsyn was traded for a 2nd round pick in the 2013 draft, and the conditional 5th rounder we traded away in the Hal Gill deal.  Kostitsyn thus joins the rather long list of Hab draft picks, specifically those of the talented winger variety, that have been traded away in the last 4-5 years or so.

So what do Guillaume Latendresse, Chris Higgins, Michael Ryder, Sergei Kostitsyn, Matt D’agostini, Mikhail Grabovski, and now Andrei Kostitsyn all have in common?  Inconsistency? Sure, you could say that about all of them, but you could also say they’ve all gone on to be much more important cogs on their respective new clubs. So maybe, just maybe, there’s something else going on.

Here’s two names that might be a bit of a clue: Saku Koivu and Tomas Plekanec.  See where I’m going with this?  No?  All right I’ll tell you.  These are the top centers all of the aforementioned players had at their disposal for the duration of their careers with the Montreal Canadiens.  

That, in a word, is very sad.  Both are small.  Both are classic overachievers.  Koivu, in his defense, was probably a bit past his prime when Higgins and Ryder first came on the scene, but either way, in no way shape or form was he ever a bona fide first line center.  As for Plekanec, I’ve stated my case on many an occasion.  He’s a second line center best known for his two-way play and penalty killing, rather than his offensive creativity. 

So yeah, it’s no wonder why Andrei Kostitsyn never became the 30-35 goal scorer we all dreamed he would be.  All we need to do is look at all the other ex-hab top 6 wingers, and the answer should be as clear as day.

Latendresse scored 28 goals in his first season with the Wild before running into a series of bad injuries.  Higgins never really found his scoring touch again, but he’s now a very serviceable and trusted player on the Vancouver Canucks, who have a plethora of scoring options.  Michael Ryder won a cup with Boston and is on pace for 30 or more this year.  Sergei Kostitsyn scored 23 in his first year with Nashville, and is on pace for 20 again this year. D’agostini scored 21 last year with the Blues. Grabovski scored 29 last year, and is considered Toronto’s top center at the moment.

You get the picture.  They’ve all improved since leaving the Habs, and for players who were once considered inconsistent and “problem childs” to a certain extent, have all shed those tags.   But were they really any of those things to begin with? Or isn’t it more likely that the lack of talented players surrounding them had more to do with their struggles?

That’s what I think anyways.  I’m also pretty sure that brother Andrei will only add to the list of decent forwards we dumped for nothing that went on to have good to very good careers.  The organization only has themselves to blame for that. 

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