I’m back, folks. Sorry for the delay but I got caught up in covering the Hawks’ playoff run and the Braves’ Brian McCann’s new glasses. I will be covering some non-Thrasher stories again next week, but we do have hockey to report.
Had a lengthy meeting and interview with GM Don Waddell this week. We talked about many things, including Ilya Kovalchuk, the draft, the goaltending situation, etc. I just finished writing a story on Kovy that will appear in Sunday’s paper. We talked at length about the contract negotiations. Here’s the hook to the story that I can fill you in on: They will not trade Kovy this year. There will be no Marian Hossa drama at the trade deadline.
Here is what Waddell told me: “At this point I can tell you, I’ve discussed it with the ownership, with the coaches, we have no intentions, regardless of what happens this summer with signing him, we have no intentions of trading him. If you trade every player that is going to come up to be an unrestricted free agent, the way the league is set up you are going to be a free agent at 25 [years old], so we are going to be doing this all the time. You have to look at the big picture and say this year is more important to us than years from now. Florida went through it with [Jay] Bouwmeester. They didn’t trade their big guy, but they missed the playoffs. You are going to see that more and more. Where a player is 25 and he’s going to get a home run deal, but it’s more important right now to keep him and keep the franchise moving in the right direction.”
Kovy wants to see an improved roster before he re-signs. Negotiations are likely to go beyond the July 1st start date. Kovy and his agent need to see what moves are being made. I got a good idea about the draft from my conversation with Waddell and will write about that next week. We could also see a trade at or near the draft, probably including either Kari Lehtonen or Ondrej Pavelec. Goaltending is an area of depth. Stay tuned on that.
Here are a couple updates:
Marty Reasoner: Expect him to be signed soon. Waddell said he is confident it will happen. Some details to work out, but it looks like he will be back.
Toby Enstrom: His surgery went fine and he is expected to be fully recovered by training camp. Don has not spoken to him but Johan Hedberg has. Don said he could have continued to play in the World Championships but it wasn’t worth the risk.
Ondrej Pavelec: He had his knee scoped following the season. He’s back working out already.
Hope that keeps us going through the weekend. I’ll be writing more from my interview with Waddell.
Here is my question: If you have to trade one of the goalies to get some help and convince Kovy to re-sign, which one goes? Lehtonen, the No. 1, but who has injury issues that have prevented him from proving himself an entire season? Or Pavelec, who has big upside but hasn’t proven he can play every day?