You've seen it from many sources: Ilya Kovalchuk will miss 3-5 weeks with a broken foot. Feel free to discuss on this thread. I'm sure that most of the staff here at BWA will have something to say, but I'll go first.
The Atlanta Thrashers are more than Ilya Kovalchuk plus some other guys. While Kovalchuk is our best player, the face of our franchise, and our captain, this team does not win or lose based on Kovalchuk alone. If you hadn't noticed, our "3rd Line" of Kane - Peverley - Armstrong has been doing pretty well on limited ice time. They'll probably see more ice time in the future, but Evander Kane won't be on it...
Evander Kane is taking his spot as a Top-6 winger pretty early. He'll be joining Maxim Afinogenov and Nik Antropov on one of our top lines. At this point, I have no idea what to call our "1st" and "2nd" (or even "3rd") line. I've updated the line combinations on the site with the assumption that Marty Reasoner will jump to the third line and Jim Slater will center the 4th line. I don't actually think that will be the case: I think there's a good chance we call up somebody to fill the 3rd line LW spot and leave the 4th line alone. (That'd be Spencer Machacek, probably.)
Let's go ahead and continue after the jump...
For now, I've updated the line combinations to reflect the players that are on the Thrashers roster. When (if) we get news of a call-up, we'll know more.
Is this a tough break for the Thrashers? Absolutely. But this could also be an opportunity. If the Thrashers can prove to themselves that they can win games without Kovalchuk, they'll have the confidence they need to rise from a bottom-dweller to a playoff contender. The mindset can't be, "Gosh, it's a good thing Ilya Kovalchuk scores all those goals. We'd be terrible without him!" If this team can win without Kovy, they can win a lot more with him. (That's such an obvious statement, you'd think I were John Madden.)
Thursday's game will be very, very interesting. We'll get a chance to see how Kane responds to playing a full game as our temporary Kovalchuk. I argued at the beginning of the season that Kane thrives on being presented with extremely difficult challenges. It was a part of my argument that he should stick in the NHL for the season. We've seen how well he handled that challenge, but now he's got one far greater.
I, for one, am excited to see what he does with it.