Canadiens: feature on Andrei Kastsitsyn

By Dan Linn

With the 10th pick overall in the 2003 Entry
Draft, the Habs selected from Central Red Army, Andrei Kastsitsyn. 
The 2003 draft was one that was loaded with talent, and was also an event
that may be a true stepping stone for the Montreal Canadiens organization. 
The Habs were in need of a true game breaking forward, so they took a
chance on the Belarussian star, after he showed a real flair on offense in the
recent U-18 and U-20 World Junior Championships. 
Only time will tell if he take his
game to the next level. His next step is to secure a spot on the roster of CSKA
in the Russian Super League. 

In the last three drafts, the Habs have taken two players
out of the RSL, Alex Perezhogin (25th overall, 2001) and now
Kastsitsyn. Habs Russian scout Nikolai
Vakourov
sees a comparison in the two. “They are pretty similar
players.  Both are very good skaters. Andrei has a better shot then
Perezhogin. They have the same scoring ability. They have the same offensive
skills. They are both offensive forwards.” 
When asked what he saw in Kastsitsyn’s game, he replied, “I saw
talent.  He’s got skating, great
shot, very good potential.”  Regarding
concerns about his health, Vakourov said, “Yes we did numerous tests, and the
general conclusion was, that he has a problem, but it is not so important, and
it will not make a problem for him to play in the NHL.” 

Kastsitsyn was asked about his illness, and he replied,
“I don’t have anything, and I don’t think it will interfere with me
playing hockey. I really don’t think about it.”  Some players would use this as a motivation to prove to
others that they misjudged him.  “I
think it was a mistake that teams did not pick me earlier, because of this
illness issue. I will prove to them they are all wrong,” he replied.
When asked how long before he is NHL-ready, he said, “I think I would
need one or two years.”  Kastsitsyn
hasn’t been signed for this season yet, and might not be, but a strong season
in the RSL may convince him to join follow RSL players Markov and Perezhogin in
North America in 2004.

Considered to be an excellent skater and natural goal
scorer, Kastsitsyn relies on his intelligence and instinctive hockey sense to
pull off highlight reel goals, making defensemen and goalies look befuddled. 
Concerns about his health, defensive play, and lack of physical play
dwarf his abilities with the puck on offense. “Kastsitsyn
tends to thrive in big games and wants to be the go to guy when everything is on
the line,” according to one scout.  When
Kastsitsyn was asked to describe his style of play, he said, “I think I am a
team player. I can score, and I can give a nice pass.”

Kastsitsyn said of the club that drafted him, “I am very
happy that Montreal drafted me.  I
know it is one of the oldest and greatest NHL clubs.” 
He will need time to adjust to the North American style along with a new
culture and language.  Not knowing
any English or French is an obstacle, but according to Kastsitsyn, “I am going
to start learning English when I get back home. 
I hired a tutor to study individually.” 
With the Habs having only one player on the team currently that speaks
Russian, Kastsitsyn may have a difficult time communicating with his teammates. 
He was asked if he knows any current players on the Habs, he responded,
“I know Markov and Alex Perezhogin.”  This
should help ease his transformation to the NHL at some point, having two young
players that have been in the same situation, trying to adapt to the new
surroundings. There are also his military obligations to take into
consideration, but Kastsitsyn said “I don’t believe it will be a problem.” 

Kastsitsyn’s stats:

2002-2003

 

 

 

 

 

 

Team

Games

Goals

Assists

Points

Pims

+/-

Team Belarus  World
Cup 

2

1

0

1

2

-2

Team Belarus U-20 WJC

6

2

1

3

 

-9

Note:
as a 17-year -old.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Team Belarus U-18

6

6

9

15

28

-3

Note: 
He dominated on offense, against teams like USA, Finland and
Sweden. 

Was
2nd leading scorer overall.

 

 

 

 

 

Team Belarus VEHL tournament

3

3

8

11

12

 

Team Belarus Vyzov Cup

3

1

1

2

 

-2

Team Belarus Vyzov Cup 2

3

2

0

2

2

 

CSKA, RSL

6

0

0

0

2

-3

Note:
as a 17-year-old, he was able to get some time in with the Central Red
Army, but was sent down to the junior team
.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Khimik Voskresensk

2

1

1

2

2

-3

Note:
was on loan from CSKA, to the Upper league

 

 

 

 

 

 

CSKA-2

3

2

2

4

25

 

Note:
junior league

 

 

 

 

 

 

2001-2002

 

 

 

 

 

 

Polimir Novopolotsk

29

9

8

17

16

 

Note:
Belarus junior league

 

 

 

 

 

 

Team Belarus U-20 WJC

6

3

0

3

2

-5

Note:
as a 16-year-old.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Team Belarus U-18

8

7

3

10

18

-5

2000-2001

 

 

 

 

 

 

Team Belarus U-20 WJC

5

7

7

14

8

+1

Note: 
played in division 1, against weaker teams.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Team Belarus U-20

6

0

0

0

2

-3

1999-2000

 

 

 

 

 

 

Team Belarus U-18

6

0

0

0

4

-13