Predators trade for forward on the verge of becoming a free agent

Tuesday, June 29, 2010 at 6:26pm

The Nashville Predators acquired forward Sergei Kostitsyn in a trade with the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday.

The Predators sent goalie Dan Ellis and center Dustin Boyd to Montreal in exchange for the 23-year-old veteran of 155 NHL contests.

Kostitsyn’s is scheduled to become a restricted free agent on Thursday because Montreal made him a qualifying offer for a two-way contract that would pay $550,000 in the NHL and $62,500 in the AHL. Nashville plans to explore its deal with him.

Ellis and Boyd are both set to become free agents so the deal gives Montreal a brief window of exclusive negotiating rights.

“This could be a deal where neither team signs any of these players,” Nashville general manager David Poile said. “Then again, it could be a really good deal for both sides.

“(Kostitsyn) is a player who has a really big upside but has not yet reached it or lived up to his potential. … He’s sort of worn out his welcome in Montreal, but maybe the change of scenery will do him good.”

Kostitsyn played 47 games for Montreal in 2009-10 and another 16 for the Canadiens’ AHL affiliate at Hamilton. He had 18 points (seven goals, 11 assists) for Montreal, which was down five from the previous season (eight goals, 15 assists in 56 games) and down nine from 2007-08 (nine goals, 18 assists in 52 appearances).

A seventh-round selection (200th overall) in 2005, he had a team-high five points (two goals, three assists) for Belarus at the 2010 Winter Olympics.

He has played primarily on the wing as a professional but was a center in his younger days.

“There’s some flexibility there,” Poile said. “We feel like this is somebody who has a chance to play on one of our top two lines.”

Montreal recently traded goalie Jaroslav Halak to St. Louis, which created an opening on its roster. The Candiens do have one proven goalie in Carey Price.

“Montreal needs a goalie, and I think they’d be very happy if Dan Ellis signs with them,” Poile said. “As for Dustin Boyd, we liked him as a player but we felt like we had younger players in our system of similar ability, so we wanted to sort of see what we have there.”