The Malik Report
by George Malik on 03/31/11 at 07:34 PM ET
It never fails. Every season, sometime between the middle of February and the end of March, buzz builds around a supposed “can’t miss” prospect who was never drafted, now finds himself an unrestricted free agent and is drawing the interest of every team under the sun. That player is inevitably courted, sometimes literally wined and dined, and eventually signed by the team that’s desperate enough to give said player a “rookie-max” contract (which involves a cap hit of $3.875 million via salary and signing/performance bonuses [edit: thought that’s not Da Costa’s case]) and a guarantee of a spot on the team’s NHL roster.
The rebuilding Ottawa Senators signed Merrmack College forward Stephane Da Costa to such a deal today, and, as the Canadian Press’s Chris Johnston notes, nobody mentioned Fabian Brunnstrom while gushing over a player that will, thanks to a classic Bryan Murray move (signing Da Costa to a two-year deal which begins when he makes his NHL debut this Saturday), become an
restricted free agent in the summer of 2012:
Just last week Da Costa was competing for Merrimack College in the NCAA tournament. Once the team was eliminated, he hunkered down for two and a half days of meetings with NHL teams before eventually deciding to sign with Ottawa.
“(Just) like every other kid I’m sure, it was my dream to play in the NHL,” Da Costa said on a conference call. “Of course it was stressful, but I got the right place and the best fit for me I think.”
Da Costa grew up in Paris but moved to the U.S. as a teenager to pursue a career in hockey. The 21-year-old passed through the NHL draft a couple times without being selected, making him a free agent. Agent Wade Arnott of Newport Sports said that 16 NHL teams expressed legitimate interest in the forward during the last week. The Senators believe Da Costa is good enough to step right into their lineup and he’s thrilled about getting the chance to do that.
“I thought it was the best opportunity, a great fit,” said Da Costa. “I heard a lot of good things about it — about the city, the organization. I thought that was the best fit for me.”
Continued, and Da Costa will need luck in attempting to live up to his billing while going directly from NCAA Division I hockey to playing in the NHL while carrying the expectations of a seemingly long-suffering fan base on his shoulders.
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The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.