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Predators trade Dan Ellis and Dustin Boyd to Montreal…

The Nashville Predators have announced that they’ve traded Dan Ellis and Dustin Boyd‘s negotiating rights to the Montreal Canadiens in exchange for the negotiating rights of right winger Sergei Kostitsyn.

The move comes less than 48 hours until the NHL’s free agency market opens at noon on July 1.

Sergei, the younger of the two Kostitsyn brothers, is a 23-year old who split time between the Canadiens and their AHL affiliate the Hamilton Bulldogs last year. In his 47 NHL games last season, he tallied seven goals and 18 total points. With Hamilton, however, he produced at nearly a point-per-game clip amassing 13 points in 16 games.

Kostitsyn has never spent an entire season in the National Hockey League but shows some promise. Based on his three part-time seasons in Montreal, he projects to a 30-35-point guy at the NHL level, he’s a proven point-per-game producer at the AHL level, he led Belarus in scoring at the last Winter Olympics (five points in four games) and, in junior, he racked up 209 points in just 122 games, including a season where he bagged an amazing 131 points in only 59 contests.

Now, granted, those are OHL numbers but still, given a full time role with a legitimate shot at decent ice time, the ability is obviously there.

But here’s the thing: all three players involved are free agents come Thursday.

According to, Kostitsyn’s cap hit was $816,667 last year with Montreal. Considering he’s a part-timer, the Preds would likely offer him around the same.

On the other side of the coin, Ellis specifically wasn’t coming back to Nashville because he wanted a shot at being a starter elsewhere. Obviously, with Carey Price in the mix in Montreal, it doesn’t look like that’ll be the case if he signs with the Habs. Look for Ellis to still test the free agent market.

As for as Boyd, he never really panned out in Music City. He put in solid minutes and was certainly more consistent than the alternative of Cal O’Reilly, but O’Reilly has a lot more offensive upside and now, it appears, will have a legitimate shot at staying in the lineup next year. Boyd chipped in five points in his 18 game audition with the Predators but, other than penalty killing, didn’t make a big enough impression to warrant a full-time roster spot next year. And, of course, Nashville is loaded at the center position with David Legwand, Colin Wilson, Marcel Goc, Jerred Smithson, O’Reilly, Nick Spaling and even Mike Santorelli if you want to dig into the Milwaukee Admirals lineup.

At the end of the day, this was a numbers game with Boyd. Would he have been nice to keep around? Sure. Even at the price the Preds probably could’ve got him for but there are other centermen in waiting who deserve a shot.

Kostitsyn is an interesting pick up for Nashville, however. He’s got a reputation as a head case. Montreal Canadiens blogger Topham of Lions in Winter doesn’t necessarily agree however. Back on September 28, 2009, he blamed the Habs themselves for Kostitsyn’s attitude and suggested that he’s not the only one to blame, he’s just the easiest.

If the Predators sign him, we hope Topham is right.

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