Ilya Ko­valchuk sent to New Jer­sey from At­lanta for play­ers, draft pick

Cape Breton Post - - SPORTS -

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.

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