The 2003 NHL Entry Draft was and is considered one of the deepest that scouts have seen over the last several years. With the Montreal Canadiens having the tenth pick overall, there was little doubt that a highly skilled player would still be available when it came time to make their selection. What they didn’t know is that the international scoring star Andrei Kostitsyn would still be available to them, as he was expected to go as high as fifth overall due to the display he put on at the U-18 Championships where he scored an impressive 15 points in only six games. But there were concerns of his health, a back injury and a medical condition, which the Canadiens doctors felt was not a concern for the young native of Novopolosk, Belarus. The Habs took a chance on the highly skilled forward, in hopes of finding the true game breaker that they so sorely have lacked in the past. The recently turned 19-year-old certainly has the abilities to get fans out of their seats with his impressive abilities in the offensive zone.
Over the summer, general manager Bob Gainey tried to bring over their newest first round pick, but things could not be worked out, and Kostitsyn when back to play in Russia for the famous Victor Tikonov’s former Central Red Army team, CSKA. But ice time for the defensively challenged winger has been hard to come by, with his time spent mostly on the fourth line or the press box. As with many young high skilled scoring forwards, Kostitsyn has struggled with his consistency and defensive play, so he has spent the majority of the season playing for CSKA-2, in the developmental league or 1st league.
While things didn’t go so well for Kostitsyn while with CSKA, the opposite can be said of his time spent with CSKA-2, where he has shown little to no problems consistently scoring as he has 38 points in 27 games this year. To show just how consistent he has been this year, in the 27 games he’s played, he’s scored a point in 21 of his 27 games, and in 12 of those games he was able to score two or more points, and four three point games, and one four point game.
As for his health, he has shown no signs of any serious problems, and his back seems to be holding up just fine, as he has played in 27 games with CSKA-2, 11 games with CSKA, and 5 games for Team Belarus’s World Junior team.
Signed with the Canadiens in the summer of 2004.
Kostitsyn is an excellent puck-handler, with above-average speed. What sets him apart from other players is his ability to handle the puck at top speed. He has good hockey sense, although like most players his age he needs to work on playing without the puck.
He is also blessed with a quick release and heavy shot. The biggest thing that kept him out of the top-five in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft were health concerns.