February 5, 2010 :: 1:24am ET
Devilishly good trade for
By David Pagnotta,
[TORONTO, ON] -- Okay, so maybe my
theory about the Detroit Red Wings possibly going after Ilya Kovalchuk
didn't pan out. That's fine. At least this whole Kovy saga is over and
done with (for now).
With reports floating around suggesting
Philadelphia, Boston, Chicago and Los Angeles were knocking on
Thrashers GM Don Waddell's door, everyone was focused on the potential
sexy story; Kovalchuk's a King; Hawks land superstar sniper; Flyers
Instead, when news broke (big props to
USA Today's Kevin Allen for first reporting the trade) that Kovalchuk
was heading to New Jersey, it almost seemed as if the hockey world's
response was, "Aww man! Really?"
Of note, I did call Puck Daddy's Greg
Wyshynski, a lifetime Devils fan, to see if he needed any help
stitching 'Kovalchuk' over his 'Lemieux' jersey.
Nevertheless, Kovalchuk is a Devil and
Lou played this one perfectly.
The Devils were never in the mix until
Sunday, when Lamoriello called Waddell after he had been scouting the
Kings in New Jersey. From there, talks apparently went rather
"We looked at several deals really
closely," Waddell said. "It wasn't easy, but at the end of the day
this was the best deal for us."
The Thrashers received defenseman Johnny
Oduya, right wing Niclas Bergfors, center Patrice Cormier, a 2010
first-round pick and a 2010 second-round pick.
From New Jersey's perspective, what did
they really give up? A steady No.3 defenseman, a rookie forward with
second-line potential, a top prospect (despite this season's gigantic
oops), and a first-rounder (the teams swapped second round picks).
Oduya's going to replace Pavel Kubina in
the backend, who will either be traded before the Mar. 3 deadline or
leave as an unrestricted free agent this summer.
Bergfors will see considerably more ice
time in Atlanta, and the Thrashers hope he'll find an instant
connection with fellow rookie Evander Kane.
Cormier is a player the Devils were very
reluctant to trade, according to Waddell. And for good reason. He's a
very talented player and will be given every opportunity to make the
Thrashers' lineup in September.
You have to give to get, and the Devils
can afford to part with this package. It's not like they moved David
Clarkson or Travis Zajac. The Devils still have a strong core of young
talent and Kovalchuk has significantly improved their chances at
capturing Lord Stanley's Cup.
On the flip side, the Thrashers came out
pretty good, too.
This was the best option available, even
though we're told the Kings were in it right until the end.
"There was one team that kept coming
back to me and was trying to find a way to make the deal work,"
Waddell said, without confirming the team other than to say it was a
Western Conference club.
So as the Devils gear up for what's
expected to be another Stanley Cup run, the Thrashers are left
pondering the immediate future. With Kovalchuk gone, what does that
mean for the likes of Slava Kozlov, Colby Armstrong, Todd White and
The Thrashers aren't finished dealing.
But they aren't necessarily sellers.
"We're looking daily," Waddell
acknowledged. "If there's a fit out there that makes some sense, I'm
certainly going to look at it."
Kozlov has a no-trade clause and will
have to approve any deal the team tries to make, but with the Kings,
Detroit Red Wings and Flyers supposedly interested, there's a good
chance he says 'yes'.
The Thrashers also have three goalies on
the roster, even though Johan Hedberg's in the final year of his
It's believed the Thrashers will try to
trade Kari Lehtonen, but Waddell wouldn't confirm which direction he
"We've had some talks with some teams, but we're still approaching it
to see if it makes sense to carry with three goalies… no decisions
have been made yet," he said.
Life without Kovalchuk started around
7pm ET Thursday. It'll be interesting to see how the team adjusts.
is the Editor-in-Chief of
The Fourth Period Magazine and covers the
NHL for TheFourthPeriod.com. He is also a
contributing writer for NBCSports.com and MSNBC.
Feb. 04, 2010
Kovalchuk and the KHL
Jan. 11, 2010
Kovalchuk: Worth every penny
Dec. 30, 2009
Tampa's success rides on Lecavalier's shoulders
Dec. 23, 2009
It's not only about the money for Kovalchuk
Dec. 17, 2009
Kovalchuk dominates, contract talks continue
Nov. 24, 2009
Pouliot finally arrives in Montreal
Oct. 16, 2009
For Bozak and Leafs, the future should be now
Oct. 01, 2009
Kovalchuk remains in wait-and-see mode