Kovalchuk to New Jersey Devils

To New Jersey: Ilya Kovalchuk, Anssi Salmela, Atlanta's 2010 2nd round pick

To Atlanta: Johnny Oduya, Niklas Bergfors, Patrice Cormier, New Jersey's 2010 1st- and a swap of 2nd-round picks

[Edited by Tim to include confirmed details.]

For the New Jersey perspective check out In Lou We Trust.

Falconer's Take

Bergfors: The offensive talent in this deal. His scoring numbers in AHL suggest he's not a 1st line guy but more of 2nd line 50-60 point potential in NHL. He is a RFA this summer and his salary will be modest given his NHL performance this year.

Oduya: The defensive stalwart of this deal. Had two very strong years with New Jersey has not been as good this year. Signed to a reasonable contract $3.4 million for 2 more seasons.

Cormier: Nearly everyone knows about his brutal elbow that got him suspended. His scoring stats are pretty lousy for a player in the high scoring Q, so don't expect anything more than 3rd line duty for him. But with E. Kane, Bogosian, Klingberg and Cormier Thrashers are adding up young guys who like to hit.

Picks. Thrashers will now have 2 picks in the 1st and a late 2nd rounder. This is expected to be an above average draft class.

Roster Ripple Effects

Adding Oduya at defense suggests to me that Kubina will not be re-signed. Thrashers top four next year would be Enstrom, Oduya, Bogosian and Hainsey. Departure of Salmela opens a roster spot for Arturs Kulda who leads the entire AHL in plus/minus. Valabik and Kulda as the 3rd pairing. (Schubert and Popovic are UFA)

Waddell said he expects Cormier to compete for a NHL job next year. Both Slater and Boulton are UFA this summer, so perhaps some turnover there. Machacek should also be in the mix for a job.

Left wing is not nearly as deep with Kovy and Kozlov departing. Might give Brett Sterling one last crack as the 2nd line LW out of training camp? Peverley can play all three forward positions so he also is a potential LW for next year.

Power Play QB

Bogosian and Kubina would get lots of PP ice time on a normal team. Kovalchuk never came off the ice with the man advantage which diminished their opportunities to show what they can do. Paradoxically the Thrashers PP might become less predictable and perhaps more dangerous as opposition PKers have to guess what will happen now. Look for Zach Bogosian to put up some gaudy numbers next season.

Offense/Defense

The Thrashers are much better defensively with Oduya coming on board and Bergfors swapping out for Kovalchuk up front. They also lose a lot of offensve, but guys Bogosian and Kubina are very capable of supplying more points on the PP. It is really the ES offense that will suffer in my opinion.

Cap Effects

The departure of UFAs Kubina, Afinogenov, Armstrong and Kozlov means that $14 million comes off the books in cap space. The Oduya + Bergfors combo will probably make $2 million less than Kovy+Salmela. So the Thrashers will have $16 million in cap dollars freed up. The UFA market is rather weak, but Chicago Blackhawks will need to clear $9 million of their books just to squeeze under the cap so there will be some salaries moved via trade.

Age Curve

Team gets younger which I endorse. Bergfors is 22, Oduya 29 (replacing Kubina who is older) and Cormier is just 19, the picks will be 18 of course. This positions the Thrashers to enjoy their peak performance years.

Who Won?

I'd have to say Jay Grossman if Kovalchuk gets a cap max contract this summer. The Thrashers would have gotten more if they had made this trade over the summer. A rental is only going to bring you a fraction of the true value of the players (see Ryan Smyth, Hossa rental, etc).

Organizational Reputation

The trade is nothing short of a huge hit in terms of the Thrashers reputation among hockey fans in Atlanta and the rest of the NHL. Personally, I'm less upset than most because I think committing $10 million to a one-way hockey player for 7-10 years would not have helped this team in the long run (I know many people will probably disagree with me on this point).

The Thrashers low reputation will probably make it harder to attract UFA next summer. Brian Campbell spurned the team two years ago (which turned out to be a good thing from a cap perspective) but Atlanta might have to overpay to get who they want on the market.

The ONLY long term way to recover is to construct a competitive roster and win games. Respect comes from wins--nothing else.

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