Just for fun. What if Kovy wanted to get traded so that the Thrashers could stock their shelves, and had every intent of returning to an improved Thrashers team as a free agent? A more serious question would be, is it crazy to think that Kovy could potentially sign with Atlanta when all is said and done?
A look at what Atlanta has netted by trading Kovalchuk - two top-6 forwards (Bergfors and Byfuglien), a top-4 Dman (Oduya), a 3rd-pairing veteran Dman (Sopel), a checking forward (Eager), a two-way center prospect (Cormier). Their moves have not only improved them for the future, but improve their current state of affairs tremendously.
Atlanta currently has almost $30 million in cap space with their entire defense corps signed for the upcoming year and 6 forward spots and 2 goalie spots left to fill. That's an average of $3.75 million per player! Which means that Kovalchuk could sign a contract for $10 million a year and the Thrashers would STILL have $20 million left to sign 7 players.
If Kovalchuk were to sign with the Thrashers, this is what their lineup could look like:
Byfuglien - Antropov - Bergfors (RFA)
Eager (RFA) - Slater - RW (re-sign Colby Armstrong?)
Hainsey - Enstrom
Oduya - D (free agency?)
Sopel - Bogosian
Ondrej Pavelec, veteran goalie (like a Turco? or even Nabokov?)
And as crazy as it sounds, if they could unload Antropov and were willing to spend up to the cap, they could probably make a run at all of the top 3 free agents this year - Kovalchuk AND Marleau AND Martin. They could use their 30 million in cap space this way - 8-10 for Kovy, 7 for Marleau, 5-6 for Volchenkov/Martin, 4 for Little, 3 for Bergfors, 2 for a goalie, 1 each for Afinogenov, Eager, and Armstrong, and -4 for getting rid of Antropov.
Just saying.....it's within the realm of possibility.....and you'd have to suddenly consider the Thrashers a definite playoff team with potential to be a contender very soon.