by Patrick Hoffman on 02/04/11 at 02:10 PM ET
Over at RLD Hockey today, I take a look back at the trade that sent Illya Kovalchuk to the New Jersey Devils and where both organizations are today.
You can either click here to read it at the site or can continue below.
The Kovalchuk trade: One year later
A year ago today, the Atlanta Thrashers traded star sniper Illya Kovalchuk and defenseman Anssi Salmela to the New Jersey Devils for Niclas Bergfors, Johnny Oduya, and Patrice Cormier. It was easily the biggest blockbuster of last year’s trading season.
Looking back at it, it is really tough to say who got the better end of the deal, especially with everything that happened to the Devils during the Kovalchuk saga this summer. With that said, let’s take a look at where each player involved in the trade stands today.
We’ll start with Kovalchuk. It has obviously been a season to forget for both Kovalchuk and the Devils as the team will more than likely miss the playoffs for the first time since the 1995-96 season.
Statistically, Kovalchuk has 30 points (14 goals and 16 assists) in 49 games, which is far below his career averages. The good news for the Devils is that he has turned his play up recently, thanks in part to Jacques Lemaire returning to the bench. The bad news is that they have so much money tied into him that it may be difficult to keep other players (Zach Parise?), which could end up dramatically changing their entire organization.
Salmela has also struggled in Jersey this season. In 16 games this season, the defenseman has just two assists and is a -3. He’s also had to deal with injuries.
On Atlanta’s side, the players involved have done a bit better. Bergfors was solid late last year and has 27 points in 42 games (despite the trade rumors); Oduya is logging over 22 minutes a night and has 14 points in 53 games; the young Cormier has one goal and one assist in 15 games and performed well at the AHL level.
The Thrashers appear to have a new attitude without their former ‘face of the franchise’. They made the right move as the team needed a rebuild and moving Kovalchuk was the start of that. As of right now, the Thrashers hold the eighth and final spot in the Eastern Conference and come April, have a chance to make the playoffs for the first time since the 2006-07 season.
As for the Devils, the Kovalchuk deal set them back in a huge way. They signed him to a 15-year deal worth $100 million after a two-month ordeal, which is taking up a big chunk of cap space and even caused the team to be shorthanded in a couple of games earlier in the season.
One year later, it looks like the Thrashers got the upper hand of the deal.
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Patrick has a tremendous passion for hockey. Besides covering the Rangers and the NHL for Kukla's Korner, you can also find Patrick's work over at Sportsnet.ca, The Red Light District Hockey Blog, NHL Home Ice, and Liam Maguire's Ultimate Hockey web site.
Prior to writing for the above mentioned outlets, you could find Patrick's musings at hockey web sites/outlets such as TheHockeyNews.com, TheFourthPeriod.com, Spector's Hockey, Hokeja Vestnesis, Blueshirt Bulletin, SNYRangersBlog.com and many more.
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