Everyone and their dog is talking about Stéphane Da Costa right now, and as always happens, the Maple Leafs get dragged into the conversation.
You likely remember Da Costa as the scrappy little guy that never quite made it on the Ottawa Senators. If you’re an AHL fan, you might remember his three good years on the Binghamton Senators. He spent the last two of his seasons there second to Mark Stone and then Mike Hoffman in points.
He’s on everyone’s lips now because of a good performance for France at the IIHF World Championships.
The Russians are talking:
According to Rsport.ru Vegas Golden Knights are looking at signing Stephane da Costa. https://t.co/gsYCmKLrUs— Andrew Zadarnowski (@AZadarski) May 13, 2017
Who isn’t rumoured to be about to sign in Vegas? Try Hilary Knight, guys, her name is perfect for you.
The French are talking:
On parle de plus en plus de Stéphane Da Costa en NHL. Vous pensez le voir signer dans quelle équipe ?— SlapshotMag (@LaHockeyCulture) May 13, 2017
See? The Leafs are in the rumour mix right away.
The translation and results:
The fever heated up a couple of days ago when he shot up the points rankings at Worlds:
#IIHFWorlds— HockeyArchives (@hockeyarchives) May 13, 2017
Top marqueurs :
Artemi Panarin 10 pts
Stéphane Da Costa 8 pts
Nathan MacKinnon 8 pts
Elias Lindholm 7 pts
After Sunday’s action the leader board looked like this:
The caveat on that is that two of Da Costa’s goals are shootout winning goals. They count those at Worlds. The counter-caveat is that here’s one of them:
Je ne comprendes pas l'idiome “deux laits, deux sucres”.
Edited to add this lovely explanation:
@KatyaKnappe "Deux laits, deux sucres" refers to the fact that in French, when a player fools a goalie, we say "he took him out for coffee".— Simon Boisvert (@simonsnake70) May 15, 2017
Okay, so that’s the fuss. What’s underneath it?
Da Costa played well in the AHL, but could not crack the Senators lineup, so he went to the KHL and played three seasons with Moscow CSKA, Nikita Zaitsev’s most recent team there. Da Costa had one great year and then managed only 24 games in each of his next two due to injury. His contract with CSKA has expired.
The Ottawa Senators rights to Stephane Da Costa expire on July 1. Would not be surprised if he makes a NHL comeback attempt with a new team.— Mark Bowie (@bowiepuck) May 13, 2017
I haven’t fact checked that, but Da Costa gave a similar date in an interview last off-season.
He also said his 2015-2016 injury was to his knee and required surgery. He came back that year and played in the playoffs. He wasn’t interested in going back to Ottawa last summer, and Ottawa showed no sign of trading his rights, so he played another year in the KHL. He missed more time, came back for the playoffs and excelled there.
I’ve seen him play a great deal while watching Zaitsev in the 2015-2016 season. Da Costa turns 28 this summer and is a smooth, fast skater who handles the puck very well, passes very well, and is excellent on the power play. He is a centre who shoots right, and is good at faceoffs. This is what seems to have caught the notice of Leafs fans.
If there is a secret formula to deciding if a KHL player will succeed in the NHL, I don’t know it. It’s not goals or points. Petri Kontiola leads a list of very good to excellent KHL goal scorers and points getters who failed in their NHL adventures. It might be easy to say a league leader like Alexander Radulov will do fine in North America, but once you get past the obvious names like Evgeny Dadonov, Nikita Gusev and Vadim Shipachyov, it’s tougher to predict who can make the leap.
There is another list of players who were good to great in the AHL, couldn’t make the NHL and are succeeding in the KHL. Peter Regin, an old Binghamton teammate of Da Costa’s, is one of them, as is Da Costa himself.
I was very skeptical of Radulov. Skeptical does not mean I thought he would fail, however. I just wasn’t absolutely sure his game would translate. For a player projected to come in on the fourth line like Da Costa, it’s even harder.
I am very, very skeptical of Miro Aaltonen ever making the Leafs roster, but I think Da Costa is a much better player. He’s scrappy and physical too, for all he is a classic 180 cm/80 kg player. He is actually listed at 82 kilos which makes him 181 lbs, but I’m not absolutely sure he’s really 5’ 11”.
For Da Costa himself, he might want a team like Vegas where ice time comes easier and there’s already a KHL player on the roster. But does he just want an NHL shot? Or does he want a shot on a good team?
Depending on the contract, the Leafs could do worse, and someone was recently complaining they have no centres.
Stéphane Da Costa
|2004-2005||Viry U18||France U18||9||11||3||14||10||Playoffs||6||14||1||15||24|
|2005-2006||Amiens U18||France U18||9||15||8||23||34|
|Amiens U22||France U22||1||0||0||0||0|
|France U18||WJC-18 D1||5||3||6||9||2|
|2007-2008||Sioux City Musketeers||USHL||51||12||24||36||22||Playoffs||4||1||2||3||8|
|France U20||WJC-20 D1||5||5||5||10||8|
|2008-2009||Sioux City Musketeers||USHL||48||31||36||67||23|
|France U20||WJC-20 D1||5||4||9||13||4|
|Player statistics powered by www.eliteprospects.com|