A few days ago, we asked the other 29 SB Nation writers to propose their trade offers for a Kovalchuk rental. A trade proposal had to take into account Kovalchuk's $6.389 million cap number. The Thrashers would be offering the remaining months on Ilya's current NHL contract. No sign and trade scenarios, since the Thrashers did not allow any teams to negotiation with Hossa and Don Waddell has said that allowing such talks reduces the control of the team dealing the player.
We received some responses from about half of the 30 team writers. There is a wide mixture. Some clubs are not in the playoff hunt and thus a rental is not desired. Other teams have the resources but are pressed up against the cap. And then other teams might have cap space and resources, but they like the chemistry on their roster and don't want to mess with success.
I think that general Atlanta fans will be disappointed with what is being offered. The reality is that a rental player who is a pending UFA is not going to bring a king's ransom in return. Furthermore, this exercise demonstrates that the market for Kovalchuk as a rental is probably just a handful of teams.
Quick Comment from Tim: We thought this would be a fun way to get some offers on the table that Thrashers fans could discuss. Is it better to send him out West where he won't play us as often... but perhaps leave good offers on the table? Are there better offers out there if we focus on prospects rather than taking strong roster players right away. Sadly, there aren't a whole lot of these trade-offs available. Between offers that break the rules (San Jose offering Rob Blake, Ottawa offering Kovalev) to teams that just wanted to offer spare parts, these aren't particularly good. Very few teams were even willing to offer a pick without a re-signing condition. My favorite would probably be the offer from the Kings: I like the unconditional pick and we'd be picking up another young defenseman and a strong defensive prospect, but that's not exactly what the Thrashers need right now. Anyway, here are the offers:
Eastern Conference Responses
Buffalo: They are happy with their roster and unsure how well Kovalchuk would fit in.
Florida: LW Rostislav Olesz (roster player - $3.125M cap hit each season through 2014), C Shawn Matthias (part-time roster player [no room] - $0.795M cap hit each season through 2011, D Keaton Ellerby (non-roster player - $1.3M cap hit each season through 2011), (1) First-round pick in 2011 (conditional with FLA signing Kovy)
New Jersey Devils: Devils offer: Dainius Zubrus (C/RW, $3.4 mil cap hit through 2013, capable of 2nd/3rd lines), Mark Fraser (rookie D-man, currently 6th on Devils depth chart, $500k cap hit, pending RFA), prospect Matt Haloscjil , a conditional 1st round draft pick if Kovy re-signs, and everyone’s favorite: future considerations (Atlanta gets another prospect--although not David Clarkson--if Kovalchuk should re-sign)
New York Islanders: Sean Bergenheim, Jeff Tambellini, Aaron Ness, some long-shot prospect whose inclusion makes Waddell's bosses think he got another body, 2011 1st-round pick (conditional upon Kovalchuk re-signing with the Islanders)/
New York Rangers: Callahan, Higgins, Sanguinetti and a conditional 1st (if he re-signs) for kovy
Ottawa: RW Alex Kovalev, D Brian Lee, Conditional 2010 second-round pick*,Conditional 2011 second-round pick* Conditions: The 2010 second-rounder guaranteed, upgrades to first if Kovalchuk extends in Ottawa; 2011 second-rounder conditional on extension.
Philadelphia Flyers: Our readers have practically come to a consensus, which is remarkable when you consider our group. There's no way that Philly would be able to add Kovalchuk without severely compromising, well, everything.
Pittsburgh: Not enough depth to trade for pending UFA and they won the Cup last year.
Tampa Bay: Intra-division trade of this magnitude is just too improbable.
Washington: two of the three of Eric Fehr, Andrew Gordon, and Francois Bouchard, in addition to a first round pick. You can have another first rounder, in either 2011 or 2012 (your choice) if Kovy re-signs in DC.
Western Conference Responses
Colorado: Would wait until summer to make a pitch to Ilya as a UFA.
Edmonton: No interest in a rental players as the club would gain the most from a finishing low enough to earn a lottery pick in the NHL Draft.
Nashville: Dan Hamhuis (pending UFA), Ryan Jones, along with a conditional draft pick based on playoff performance this season (something like a 3rd, bumping up to a 2nd if they make the WC Final, and a 1st if the SC Finals).
Phoenix: If Kovalchuk doesn't like the ownership situation in ATL then he certainly isn't signing up here!