Thrashers general manager Don Waddell has told star player Ilya Kovalchuk that he will be traded. Waddell did so after practice today. His agent was then informed of the pending move. No timetable was given for a move.
I talked to Ilya Kovalchuk and several players on whether his contract situation – and trade talk – are becoming a distraction. Everyone said it was not, for various reasons.
Here are Kovalchuk’s comments before being notified that he was to be traded:
“I’m the player and my job is to go on the ice and play hard. We are all professionals. I’ve worked here for eight years and hopefully I will stay but you know it’s a business and you never know what’s going to happen.”
Kovalchuk said at one point this season he address members of the team. “I talked to some guys. You don’t want to be a distraction. We are in a playoff race and we are only one point from the playoffs.”
When asked if he wanted the whole situation to be over, Kovalchuk said: “Whatever it takes. That’s why we have agents. They talk to management. Hopefully, we are going to figure something out.”
One correction from yesterday’s story on Kovalchuk trade talks heating up. I’ve heard from an NHL official that the league will freeze rosters on Feb. 12 at 3 p.m. for the Olympic break. It will be lifted at 11:59 on Feb. 28. That is nine days away. Thrashers are in Minnesota that day before being in Chicago the next for their final game before the break.
No line combinations in practice today. They are working on special teams.
First power-play unit: Kovalchuk, Enstrom, Kozlov, White, Little
Second power-play unit: Kubina/Hainsey, Bogosian, Afinogenov, Peverley, Armstrong
First penalty kill unit: Thorburn, Reasoner, Popovic, Valabik
Second penalty kill unit: Slater, Kane, Popovic, Salmela
I’m sure these are subject to change, but these are units as they are practicing.
Nik Antropov did not skate.
I asked coach John Anderson if he was suffering lingering effects from the lower-body injury that cost him some games earlier this season. “It’s just a nagging thing,” Anderson said. “He can play with it to a certain point. It’s day-to-day. If he needs time off, he gets time off.”
Finally, Anderson said Slava Kozlov is “very close” to returning to the lineup after being scratched the past five games. I asked if that meant he will play Friday at Washington and Anderson said “probably.” I take that to mean he will be back.