When the Nashville Predators reunited Sergei Kostitsyn with his brother Andrei at last season's Trade Deadline, hopes were high that their chemistry might lead to a deep playoff run for the Preds. Things didn't work out nearly that well, so will a stand-alone Sergei be primed for success in 2013?
After coming out of nowhere to lead the Predators in scoring during the 2010-11 season, Kostitsyn agreed to a one-year contract for last season, and even though his numbers took a minor step back, he was still one of the team's top wingers. The dropoff from 23 to 17 goals scored is almost entirely attributable to his shooting percentage coming back to Earth (going from 24.7% to 17.5%).
In the playoffs, SK74's scoring dried up, as he tallied just one goal and one assist in 10 games, which some fans have speculated may have been due to poor influences from his brother Andrei along with Alexander Radulov. Now that the two Wild & Crazy Guys have left town, while we get to see the SK74 who earned his way into the hearts of Preds fans?
Sergei had perhaps the most productive lockout, as he played well for Avangard Omsk in the KHL (9 goals and 20 assists in 27 games), and was named to the starting lineup for their All-Star Game. It looks so far like he will start the season alongside Martin Erat & Mike Fisher on Nashville's top line, so he'll have his chance to be one of the Preds' leading scorers.
In practice this week, there has also been word that SK74 has been working the point on the power play again, after getting a bit of that work last season. To be honest, that doesn't thrill me much, as his reluctance to shoot would appear to allow opposing penalty killers to sag off his point and focus more on the slot.
With a new two-year contract in his hip pocket, will Kostitsyn continue being one of Nashville's better two-way forwards, or do we need to worry about the Albert Haynesworth Effect kicking in?