Ilya Kovalchuk sent to New Jersey from Atlanta for players, draft pick
ATLANTA (CP) — Ilya Kovalchuk has been traded to the New Jersey Devils, matching one of the Eastern Conference’s top teams with one of the game’s most dangerous snipers.
The Atlanta Thrashers felt forced to trade their captain after failing to re-sign him and received forward Niclas Bergfors, defenceman Johnny Oduya, prospect Patrice Cormier and a 2010 firstround pick from the Devils on Thursday night.
New Jersey also received defenceman Anssi Salmela in the deal and the teams swapped 2010 second-round draft picks.
The fourth significant NHL deal in less than a week was arguably the biggest. Kovalchuk leads all NHLers with 328 goals since being drafted first overall by Atlanta in 2001.
The move came just hours after Thrashers GM Don Waddell released a statement saying the sides had reached an impasse on contract negotiations. He added that Kovalchuk turned down a US$101-million, 12-year deal and a $70-million, seven-year deal that would have made him the NHL’s highest-paid player.
Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello jumped at the situation and made the deal, noting that while the Devils gave away a lot, they have the depth in the organization to overcome it. He added that the Devils’ recent scoring slump played a part.
“We felt Kovalchuk was a player who could come and fill the need that we felt we had for an explosive scorer and someone who could add a different dimension to our power play with the type of shot,” Lamoriello said. “Then it was just the case of trying to make it work some how where we could not sacrifice tomorrow.”
Lamoriello said the Devils have not spoken to the 26-year-old Kovalchuk about an extension. He will become a free agent after this season.
One of the players Atlanta ended up receiving in exchange for their star is Cormier, who is currently suspended for the remainder of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League season for his elbow on Mikael Tam last month. The 19year-old was a second-round pick by New Jersey and the captain of Canada’s world junior team.