The face of the Atlanta Thrashers is gone. It has been confirmed that Ilya Kovalchuk has been traded to the New Jersey Devils. How the team managed to lose its franchise player is somewhat of a mystery, since it had offered big, really big money to Kovalchuk to make him a Thrasher for life. Before we go any further here is a look at the deal:
Atlanta Thrashers- get New Jersey's 2010 First round draft pick, D Johnny Oduya, F Niclas Bergfors, prospect Patrice Cormier, and will swap second round selections with the Devils
New Jersey Devils- get Kovalchuk and D Annsi Salmela, who was traded to the Thrashers last year from the Devils organization.
It is hard to find fault with the Thrashers who had offered multiple contract extensions to Ilya over the past few days. They reportedly even went as far to offer him a 100 million dollar 12 year deal that Kovalchuk’s camp rejected. While he is having a great season he is due to become a free agent on July, 1st. He seems to be seeking a deal worth the maximum of 20% of the NHL salary cap.
Since being drafted by Thrashers in 2001 Kovalchuk has scored 328 goals, the most in that time frame, but the Thrashers have never won a playoff game. He has scored more than 41 points in each of the last five season, and adds some much needed offensive firepower to the Devils who have been slumping of late. Thrashers fans are left to wonder where their team will go from here and it will now be on the Devils to pony up big money to keep Ilya a member of their team.