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Andrei Kostitsyn has been one of the more polarizing Habs in recent years. Every year, his offensive numbers are decent but at the same time, they haven't been enough to live up to his billing as a top-10 draft pick. As a result, he is often labeled as a chronic underachiever. As he heads into his UFA season though, will that all change?
Last season was a step back in the right direction for the Belarusian winger as he posted his best offensive totals since his previous career year of 2007-08 (interestingly enough, that too was a contract season). He also had career highs in shots on goal and games played while leading the Habs in hits. The playoffs were another story as he tapered off quickly after a promising first few games. In the end, it was the typical Kostitsyn season. The numbers were decent, he was consistently inconsistent, and he left most fans wanting more.
Season Stats: 81 GP, 20 goals, 25 assists, +3, 36 PIMS, 5 PPG, 6 GWG, 196 shots, 15:53 TOI
(Kostitsyn has only played four full seasons in the league.)
For the first time in several years, Kostitsyn probably isn't penciled in as a top-6 forward with the return of Max Pacioretty from injury and the signing of Erik Cole. As a result, he's likely geared to start the season on the 3rd line with Lars Eller (if healthy) and one of Mathieu Darche, David Desharnais, or Travis Moen. On the plus side, this unit won't see the top checkers of the opponents which will free up a little more space for Kostitsyn but on the down side, he won't have as much ice time as he's used to seeing. There's also a good chance that he'll see only sparse PP time which would also hurt his overall production.
Kostitsyn's case is quite hard to predict given the 3rd line and minimal PP time factors. But, it stands to reason that one of Montreal's wingers will be hurt at some point or another and Kostitsyn (who can play both wings) will stand to be promoted if/when that happens. Given these question marks, you'll be best off looking at Kostitsyn as a 3rd line fantasy winger with some potential offensive upside, especially given the fact his best seasons have been in contract years.
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