Contract negotiations between Ilya Kovalchuk and the Thrashers have hit a “snag” general manager Don Waddell said Monday.
“Our position is different than his position right now,” Waddell told the Journal-Constitution. “Their position is fixed years with money and we have a different side of that. That’s what we have to work through. We’ve gotten through every thing else, now we have to make it through that.”
Kovalchuk’s agent, Jay Grossman, met with Waddell over the weekend and left Atlanta Sunday. Waddell said he remained optimistic that a new deal would get done.
Kovalchuk, who is scheduled to become a free agent following the season, reiterated Monday that he would like to remain with the team.
Kovlachuk was asked about the possibility of being sent to another team at the trade deadline should a new deal not be completed.
“It’s a business,” Kovalchuk said. “I think every player goes through that. It’s the first time for me. It’s [management’s] decision, but I like everything here. Like I’ve said a lot of times, I want to play with one team all my life, but you never know.”
Waddell said last week he has had no trade discussions with other teams because he intends to sign Kovalchuk.
The forward, who is the franchise’s all-time leader in points, goals and assists, said the contract talks have not been a distraction.
“I just want to play my game and focus on my game,” Kovalchuk said. “That’s what is important. Management did a great job in the offseason bringing in all those guys. We are a better team, a more experienced team. It’s our chance to make the playoffs.”