Report: Philadelphia Flyers Talking with Atlanta Thrashers About Ilya Kovalchuk

Bleacher ReportAnalyst IDecember 22, 2009

ATLANTA - DECEMBER 17:  Ilya Kovalchuk #17 of the Atlanta Thrashers celebrates his goal against the Dallas Stars with Tobias Enstrom #39 at Philips Arena on December 17, 2009 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Brian Startare is reporting that the Philadelphia Flyers are talking with the Atlanta Thrashers about acquiring superstar forward Ilya Kovalchuk. The asking price is expected to start with Jeff Carter and Claude Giroux.

Kovalchuk will be an unrestricted free agent following this season, and wants a contract extension; however Atlanta are not willing to pay Kovy the money he deserves. He reportedly wants a 10-year contract worth $11.3 million—the maximum amount allowed by the NHL.

In 28 games this season with the Thrashers, Kovalchuk has tallied 19 goals and 17 assists for 36 points. He averages over a point a game this year, which is something Philadelphia could desperately use.

The Flyers have been in one of the franchise's worst free falls in history the past few weeks, a time period that has seen John Stevens get fired with Peter Laviolette replacing him as the head coach.

Paul Holmgren has already made a move in the coaching department with the hopes to spark a lifeless club that entered the year as legitimate Stanley Cup contenders. It didn't work. The only thing left that Holmgren can do to try to get this team going is make a major deal.

With last night's 4-1 loss to the Florida Panthers, it could have very well been the last straw before one of the big pieces is moved to shake things up. Winning the division isn't a realistic option anymore, but making the playoffs can still be accomplished, but time is running out.

The Flyers are quickly approaching the mid-season point with games getting more important as we go along. Losers of four straight and eight of their last 10, there's nothing more Holmgren can do. It's time to break it up, and start over again.

To acquire Kovalchuk from Atlanta, it will take an awful lot. Considering that the Thrashers got hosed by the Penguins a couple years ago for Marian Hossa, they'll make sure they land a pretty solid package for their superstar this time around.

Carter, 24, will almost certainly have to be involved in the trade talks to land Kovy. The 24-year-old already has a 40-plus goal scorer on his resume in only four years in the NHL. This season, Carter has 12 goals and 26 points.

I don't have a problem trading Carter, given the right deal. Now, what is the right deal? I have no idea, but to net Kovalchuk would be one of the guys who I wouldn't have a problem with giving Carts for.

Atlanta will ask for another young player with a lot of potential like Giroux or James van Riemsdyk. These two are guys who Holmgren does not want to part ways with, especially in a case where it could end up being a rental.

Giroux is going to be a special player in this league someday. He has shown glimpses of brilliance in his young career with the Flyers, and has a bright future ahead of him. It would not help trading him, even if it means getting Kovalchuk—one of the best in the game.

In 34 games this year, Giroux has potted seven goals and 14 assists.

van Riemsdyk is another young player who has a future in front of him. Drafted with the second overall pick in the 2007 draft, JVR has been turning heads thus far in his rookie campaign. He has deposited seven pucks in opponent's nets and has 13 helpers in 31 games.

Trading van Riemsdyk isn't something that the Flyers will want to do because of his potential, but I have no problem shipping him along with Carter for Kovalchuk. Don't get me wrong, I like JVR, but Giroux is a guy who I'm not willing to part with.

Due to the salary cap, other things will have to fall into order for the Flyers to acquire Kovalchuk. There are other factors than agreeing to a deal with the Thrashers on who to give up. Holmgren will have to consider how he'll clear up cap space.

You have to assume that if the Flyers do try and acquire Kovalchuk, they'll plan on signing him long-term. To do so, they'll need to move another contract to fit under the cap. It's believed that they're willing to trade Daniel Briere or Simon Gagne, but it'll be hard to find a suitor.

Both Briere and Gagne have no-movement clauses to go along with a high cap hit contract and a bad injury history. For Philadelphia to trade one of them, they need to find a place that they would waive their NMC's for, and would could afford the contract.

Not a lot of teams have room to fit Gagne or Briere into their plans without moving a bad contract back to the Flyers. But in this case, they wouldn't want too much money in return because it would cancel the salary dump of trading Briere/Gagne.

There are a lot of moving factors that have to fall in place before the Flyers could even entertain a Kovalchuk trade, but there will be a major trade in the coming weeks because the way they've been playing is unacceptable.

For more Philadelphia sports coverage, please go to my blog: The Broad Street Scoop.