Is Andrei Kostitsyn (shall we call him AK-46) worth a pickup?

Canadiens LW AK-46 has an upside worth adding, but don't cry if you've missed out on him.

When Yahoo!’s Scott Pianowski suggests grabbing a fantasy hockey player, I pay attention. Pianowski was first on the bandwagon for Penguins D Alex Goligoski (last season) and Devils RW Niclas Bergfors (this year).

So when I read his endorsement of Canadiens LW Andre Kostitsyn, I overcame my hesitations and made the add. But my hesitations remain. We’ll address them below.

Meanwhile, other fantasy owners are heeding Piano’s advice. Kostitsyn, 24, is still only 18-percent owned in Yahoo! leagues, but that is up from 16 percent at the time of Piano’s post. (In ESPN formats, it’s too late: AK-46 is owned in 67.9 percent.)

So: What’s not to like about a former first-round pick (10th overall, 2003) with six goals in his last five contests, including back-to-back two-goal games?

Here’s a short list:

1. Track record. In 2007, AK-46 notched 53 points in 78 games. In 2008, he tallied 41 points in 74 games. In neither season did he fire more than 170 shots on goal. In neither season did he surpass 16 power play points.

2. This season. Yes, he’s on fire, but AK’s totals remain a ho-hum 19 points in 31 matches. Do you want to take games away from LW studs like James Neal or Dustin Penner for that sort of pedestrian productivity?

3. Position. In fantasy hockey, quality left wings are almost as abundant as quality centers. As of this moment, AK-46 is ranked 43rd among all LW in the Yahoo! game. Even a reliable player like Neal (14 goals, 13 assists, 31 PIMs) only ranks 12th among LW in Yahoo! formats.

Having typed all this, why would I still bother picking up AK-46? Mainly because AK’s hot streak suggests he may be on the verge of making a leap and becoming a 35-goal scorer.

Likely? No. But the possibility is easily worth the risk of dropping a No. 4 defenseman. You can always trade a 35-goal scorer — even at LW — to address a need on your fantasy team. You can never find a trading partner for a No. 4 defenseman.

photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons

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