As recently as New Years Eve, I held to the proposition that there was a better than even chance that Ilya Kovalchuk would re-sign with the Atlanta Thrashers…the only NHL team he has ever played for.
But as I also told a handful of close friends around that time, if a deal had not been announced by the team’s annual Casino Night, then chances are he’ll be pulling on the sweater of a different team in the league before he dons the one for his native Russia in the 2010 Winter Olympic Games.
Casino Night came and went this past Sunday and, of course, there was no surprise announcement similar to last year’s when Kovy was given the “C” to wear on his jersey.
Then Monday morning, Don Waddell told our own Chris Vivlamore, “Our first priority still remains to sign him…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.”
Uh-huh…why do I picture Michael Corleone kissing his brother Fredo in Havana when I read this?
And so, while I was very optimistic that Kovy would sign a contract to remain in Atlanta up to recently, the fact is that since we are at this point of the season and no deal is yet done…it’s easy to see why many feel he’s already got one skate out the door.
Now, the NHL trade deadline this season is 3:00 pm eastern time on Wednesday March 3, which is one day after the Thrashers play their first game after the Olympic break…a home match against the Florida Panthers. However, as I stated earlier, if a trade will be made…chances are good it will be done prior to that date. Actually, I think a lot of deals will be done before the scheduled 2-week break in mid-February given the fact that general managers and owners would rather not risk having players who may be on the trade block injured during the Winter Games while still on their payroll.
Which will be the last home game that Kovy will be a Thrasher
Total Voters: 180
Given that, if Don Waddell is in fact unable to accomplish his mission to re-sign Kovy, that means there are seven home games left in which Thrashers fans will be able to enjoy seeing the Russian sniper play in Thrasher blue. Even if the matter does play out until the day of NHL Trade-Deadline-A-Palooza 2010, that would still be just eight games including the March 2 contest against the Panthers.
Thus, the new Fan Poll to the side of this entry is asking for your prediction of what home game will be his last. If you feel he will indeed sign here in the coming weeks, you can vote that way as well.
But moreover, I also want to know what you feel will be an adequate return for the NHL’s first overall draft pick in 2001? Teams that I’ve heard which have expressed an interest in his services include Philadelphia, Chicago and LA…though certainly others will give Waddell a phone call or two in the coming days.
Are you simply looking to replace Kovalchuk’s goals? Are you looking to add defensive help…even if that’s a winger that can back-check like a madman? Are you looking for a combination of a couple solid goal-scorers plus some prospects/high draft picks?
Painting with a rather broad brush here, I only hope that Don Waddell can actually bring a maximum return for Kovalchuk…yeah, yeah, I know, I know. This team needs players that can help right now and we simply cannot be sitting here in two years waiting for certain players obtained via any possible trade to “develop” in order to determine whether or not the transaction was beneficial to the Thrashers.
You know, kinda like we are two years after the last time Waddell was forced to trade away a star player because he was unable to convince him to re-sign with the Thrashers.