With recent discussion as well as prior thoughts on whether or not the New Jersey Devils will trade for Scott Niedermayer, there lies another big-name player that could be had by early March. Atlanta Thrasher left wing Ilya Kovalchuk is about to become an unrestricted free agent this summer. So far, the team and Kovalchuk's people aren't any closer to an extension. With Atlanta among the mix of teams in bottom half of the Eastern Conference (currently as of this writing they are 19-19-6 and in 11th place, two points behind the Islanders with two games in hand), the Thrashers may be willing to deal their one superstar from the last decade, Ilya Kovalchuk.
You know, Kovalchuk with 25 goals, 22 assists, -4, 45 PIM, 9 PPG, 1 GWG, 1 OTG, 133 SOG, and 22:06 ATOI in 38 games. A player who has 322 goals and 282 assists in 583 games in his career and is hungry (I hope) to see the postseason once again. All for a cap hit of $6.389 million (total, he's down to $3,012,572 as of today).
The Falconer at Bird Watchers Anonymous is looking for what each team in the NHL could offer for Kovalchuk. If only to learn how other teams would value Kovalchuk's talents. To do this, he is asking the various SBN-NHL bloggers for their communities opinion prior to Thursday. Rather than come up with something on my own, I put the question to you, what would you give up to bring Ilya Kovalchuk to New Jersey? (Rules past the jump/stars, and oh, are there rules to keep this realistic.)
Here's the parameters he's setting for this thought experiment:
- This offer is for Kovalchuk and his expiring contract (cap hit: $6.389M) only. No secondary Atlanta players/picks to be included in the deal.
- The Devils would also be acquiring the first right to sign him prior to July 1st.
- No sign-and-trade proposals.
Also, here's what the Thrashers would be realistically be interested in return for Kovalchuk.
- A roster player(s)
- Quality prospect(s)
- Conditional first-round pick(s) if Kovalchuk re-signs with New Jersey
- No goaltenders (This should not be a problem.)
- No one over 33 years old, nor "bloated" contracts (so scratch Zubrus' name from your proposal. Rolston's too, even though he can't be traded.)
Now, given that Kovalchuk plays left wing, the Devils really have no use for him. Zach Parise and Patrik Elias are just fine, one of them will have to move to the off-wing or to center; though, Elias at center could work if you ignore his terrible record at faceoffs - imagine Elias feeding Kovalchuk pucks. That Kovalchuk isn't much of a backchecker hurts, though he would undoubtedly learn how to play defense in New Jersey. I grant you that. Realistically, I don't see the Devils making a deal for Kovalchuk. For the sake of argument and this FanPost discussion, let's put all that aside.
Or, in short, don't bring up how the Devils don't need him or how the Devils should trade for Scott Niedermayer or someone else instead. (Update: Thanks to most of the 18 comments already there, I bolded this because some of you like to comment without reading. This is kind of a crucial statement.)
Also, remember that there's a hard salary cap. Per CapGeek, the Devils currently have $2,848,272 in cap space today. Kovalchuk has $3,012,572 left on his salary this season, so the Devils need to make some space to fit him in. That means the deal can't be Mike Mottau + picks, not that Atlanta would take that seriously. Check out CapGeek for any salary information.
Lastly, keep in mind that Martin Brodeur, Patrik Elias, Colin White, Jay Pandolfo, Jamie Langenbrunner, and Brian Rolston all have no trade or no movement clauses. So don't even mention these six in any deal. Do not even assume they'd be willing to waive their clauses to go from first in the East to Atlanta, no matter how much moving Rolston would make sense (besides, he's over 33 and so Atlanta wouldn't want him anyway).
So have at it with the trade proposals in the comments! I'm going to stay out of it and let you all decide what would be willing to give up to bring a dynamite goalscorer to the Rock. The Falconer wants something from the ILWT community by midnight on Wednesday, so you all have until 9 PM EST on Wednesday before I submit something to the Falconer. At a minimum, it'll be a fun little diversion and I will note who specifically came up with the proposal. You can even use it as evidence that you're better than an average HF poster when it comes to trade proposals.
Have fun and remember, this is all hypothetical. Unless it's discovered he can play center...(he doesn't, so that won't happen, but we can always dream, no?).