Novokuznetsk natives Kostenko and Orlov practice at home during the summer (Photo credit @kostenkosergey1)
In late May, Metallurg Novokuznetsk head coach Alexander Kitov indicated that goaltending prospect Sergey Kostenko was no longer part of the Washington Capitals’ plans. “As far as I know, he has ended his relationship with his North American partners,” Kitov told Novokuznetsk Sports Portal and translated by our very own Fedor Fedin. “If Sergey doesn’t ask for a trade, he’ll attend Metallurg’s [training] camp.”
Kitov’s words made sense at time time. Before the season, I spoke to Caps associate goaltending coach Olie Kolzig and the former netminder was not as high as I was on the 2012 seventh round pick. “He’s probably the lowest guy on the depth chart,” Kolzig said bluntly. “If he puts an attention to detail in his game, improves his work ethic, he would definitely pad the depth chart.”
Kostenko would then struggle through injuries, playing in only six games with the ECHL’s Reading Royals before being loaned to the Ontario Reign where he started another three. Kostenko traveled home to Russia at the end of the season.
Fast forward to this past week, when Kostenko’s name appeared on the Caps 2013 Development Camp roster. What gives?
The always insightful Mike Vogel cleared things up in an impromptu Q&A with his Twitter followers on Free Agent Frenzy Friday. Here’s the dealio: Kostenko was signed to a one-year AHL contract last season by the Hershey Bears. The Capitals, who still hold his rights, invited Kostenko back to Development Camp and are allowing him to audition for an extension this upcoming week.
Unsigned, at camp. Auditioning for extension. @KolschAtMidnite: Kostenko is on the development camp roster, didn’t he left the organization?
— Mike Vogel (@VogsCaps) July 5, 2013
With AHL veteran Dany Sabourin bolting to Austria’s Graz 99ers, there is an opening in Hershey for a back-up netminder behind Philipp Grubauer. Prospect Brandon Anderson is the early favorite to fill that position. ECHL Reading needs some depth in goal too as they look to try and repeat as champions this season. There is room for Sergs somewhere.
So if things go well this week, our goodbyes to Sergey may have been a tad premature — which is great. The Caps would up their total number of Russians players in the organization to four, with number five just a half year away. And that sure was a magic number in Detroit.