So, the Kovalchuk era in Thrasherville officially ended last night. However, the sun still came up this morning. Well, at least I’m assuming so…it’s so rainy and cloudy out there today I can’t say that I’ve actually been able to eye-ball confirm that rumor.
Anyway…as widely speculated, Don Waddell and the Atlanta Thrashers dealt away Ilya Kovalchuk… their team captain, leading scorer, centerpiece and face of the franchise. Heading to New Jersey with him is young defenseman Anssi Salmela, who is actually returning to the Devils after coming here in the Nic Havelid trade a year ago.
In return for the pair, the Thrashers gain defenseman Johnny Oduya, forward Nicklas Bergfors, prospect center Patrice Cormier and the Devils first round draft pick this summer.
Let me start off with the two things I actually like about the transaction…first, there is the Oduya part of the transaction. If you tear apart the whole and examine this one part of the deal, we are swapping out Salmela for the 28-year old Swede. I think this is an immediate upgrade on defense. Certainly I think Salmela could turn out to be a fine player, but this helps in the “right now”, IMHO.
I’ll be curious to see how John Anderson shuffled the defensive pairing with Johnny in the lineup.
The second part of the trade that makes me happy…simply the fact that this whole sorted affair is finally over. The Kovalchuk contract drama that has hung over the team like…well, the rainy overcast skies that are with us today…and the team has been severely distracted by the proceedings, regardless of what some close to the organization may say. So, there is no excuse anymore…Kovy’s gone and so too the drama that sucked all the focus away form the players.
Now, with all of that said, what we are then left with is Ilya Kovalchuk…who is on pace for something like 95 points…being replaced in the lineup by Nicklas Bergfors…he of 13 goals and 14 assists in 54 games this season. He’s played a total of 63 NHL games with 28 overall points.
Really Don?…I mean, really?
Now, this isn’t meant to be a knock on Bergfors…and is it too soon to already start calling him “Bergie”? Fact is that it looks like he’s a player that can fit right into Colby Armstrong’s slot when Donny trades him away in the coming days. But how in the world can Don Waddell seriously look the fans square in the eyes and tell them that this helps us at all in any hopeful run for this springs post-season?
Then of course there are the two other pieces in the deal..a QMJHL player who cannot play in that league for the rest of the season given his suspension due to a flagrant hit to an opponent’s head…and a draft selection that will fall somewhere around pick number 26 or 27, if not higher.
Those players may or may not work out in the future, and we’ll just have to wait and see how they eventually pan out…you know, much like the prospect and player Don obtained two years ago in the Marian Hossa deal.
Lastly, the two teams swapped 2nd round picks which…if I’m not mistaken…benefits New Jersey because I have a sneaking suspicion the Devils are gonna wind up a little better in the standings then are your Atlanta Thrashers.
So, as for the deal overall as a whole…color me unimpressed.
I guess what bugs the pure livin’ snot outa me the most this morning is the fact that the ONE thing I feared happening…seems to have happened. That being a trade that will more than likely leave us two years down the road no better than today and waiting to see how a couple of pick and prospects develop in order to deem the Kovalchuk transaction a “success” or not.
You know…just like we are now Hossa +2 years.
Now, let me respond preemptively to the most commonly used defense that I heard after the Hossa deal…and so far after the Kovy one. It’s the one that goes something like “But Waddell did the best he could considering the circumstances”.
Well, I just gotta be honest with ya…I am just sick and damn tired of see this Thrashers teams formed and shaped because Don Waddell found himself in a less-than-favorable circumstance. We have, for over a decade now, seen great players come and go…leaving D-Wad to have to clean up afterwards “the best he can”.
This organization needs a general manager that can direct the circumstances that make up his team…not simply “do the best he can” to make lemonade out of lemons.
After the Kovalchuk trade, the Thrashers are...
Total Voters: 248
Ya know…I don’t think Kovalchuk, or Hossa for that matter, rejected the offers Don Waddell made them when contract time came around. No, moreover I think it was more a rejection of what this team has become…and probably will be…under the management of Don Waddell and the Great Octocluster that is our current ownership.
In closing…I leave you with the one question that, to me, really is the only one that matters. Don Waddell possessed the crown jewel in this years trade deadline period…and we now see what he did with it. So I ask you, is this team any closer to the Stanley Cup then we were 24 hours ago…or are we a little further away?
It may be raining and cloudy outside today…but I think the answer to that is still clearly seen.