Former Ottawa Senators prospect Stephane Da Costa has been playing for the KHL’s CSKA Moscow for the past two seasons, and the 26-year-old has turned into one of the league’s premier offensive players. Take his goal from Wednesday for example.
In the first period of a contest against Dynamo Moscow, Da Costa was working the point in the dying seconds of a power play when he started weaving into the Dynamo zone. First, Da Costa faked a slapshot and went around a defender with a spinorama. He followed that up with shoulder and head fakes that dropped a defenseman, who Da Costa then stepped around with ease. Virtually in alone, Da Costa used one last head fake to freeze goaltender Alexander Yeryomenko before rifling a puck into an open net:
While there’s some sloppy defending in there, it doesn’t take away from the fact Da Costa had to have the presence of mind to fake not once, not twice, but three times en route to the goal. There’s a large percentage of players who would have let fly a shot when they beat the second defender. The patience by Da Costa is as impressive as anything.
Da Costa always seemed like he had the tools to be a steady contributor in the NHL, but he never quite panned out. The most he ever played with the Senators in a single season was in 2011-12 when he got a 22-game audition, over which time he scored three goals and five points. At the AHL level, though, he was dynamite.
In 159 games with the Senators’ affiliate in Binghamton, Da Costa netted 44 goals and 132 points. The same went for his performance in the NCAA, where he scored 30 goals and 90 points for Merrimack College in 67 games. He was even named Hockey East rookie of the year in 2009-10.
He’s really hit his stride in the KHL, though. In 2014-15, he tore the league up for 30 goals and 62 points in 46 games. He’s missed much of the current campaign with an undisclosed injury, but in the 18 games he has played, Da Costa has six goals and 12 points.