Here is the item on Don Waddell’s response to my questions about the ongoing Ilya Kovalchuk contract talks and trade rumors.
Thrashers general manager Don Waddell said Monday that he is not actively seeking to trade star Ilya Kovalchuk. However, a trade is a possibility should a new contract agreement not be reached.
Waddell told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution in May that he would unequivocally not trade Kovalchuk, who will become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season, even if contract talks reached an impasse.
“Our first priority still remains to sign him,” Waddell told the AJC Monday. “That’s clear. I probably didn’t leave the door open enough at the beginning of the year because, obviously, I was hoping that this would be long done by now. We also have to protect the asset. He’s an asset to our franchise. …
“[A trade] still looms as an option, but it’s not my first choice.”
Waddell said that both sides – the Thrashers and Kovalchuk and his agent Jay Grossman – have proposals on the table.
“We are at a difference of what the player should be paid,” Waddell said. “It has nothing to do with Kovy being a great player, being our franchise player. It has everything to do that we do this and still have room that we can continue to grow this franchise.”
The NHL trade deadline is March 3. No league transactions can be made during the two-week Olympic break, which begins Feb. 14.
Waddell also said there is an option to play out the season with Kovalchuk on the roster and attempt to re-sign him at a later date.