Now with what it looks like NJ not being able to re-sign Ilya and the finishing of the Atlanta/Chicago trade, it looks like we have the seen the end result of the Kovalchuk trade.
In the conclusion for the Devils, New Jersey could not even surpass the first round with Ilya, and Atlanta received a fair bit to say the least; for a player who was never going to resign with the team.
In the deal to the Devils, Lou acquired Kovalchuk and Salmela. Now that Ilya has departed, they are left with Anssi, a defenseman who they had not even let play in the post season, where they ended up using 8 and in his nine games leading into the playoffs, he led the team with the worst plus/minus.
So far it seems like Atlanta got something for nothing.
The Thrashers ended up receiving Niclas Bergfors, Johnny Oduya, Patrice Cormier, and New Jersey’s first round pick (24th overall). Neither of Bergfors and Oduya looked out of place in the Georgia state, with Niclas having finished only two goals short of Ilya’s total in Jersey, and Oduya finishing with Atlanta’s best plus/minus, a strong all around defenseman.
Then just last week Atlanta shipped, Marty Reasoner, Joey Crabb, Jeremy Morin, and the Devil’s 1st rounder, and another 2nd rounder to Chicago in exchange for Dustin Byfuglien, Ben Eager, Brent Sopel and Akim Aliu.
Since Crabb is a UFA, he’s just a temporary move. Aliu and Morin are similar in terms of age and value at this point, but Morin does seem to have a bit better upside (still years till we know which is better). This leaves Reasoner and a 1st (from the Kovalchuk trade) for Byfuglien, Eager and Sopel.
It is true, this is mostly a salary move by the Hawks, and receiving a strong pick and a strong prospect is terrific for players who had they no cap room for anyways.
But now you can compare that Atlanta received much more from the Kovalchuk deal, three vital components with Stanley Cup experience. Two of them not yet at their prime; Byfuglien and Eager, will be tough to handle for opponents, Dustin with his big body and still able to put in that well needed goal or two, and Eager’s tenacity.
Sopel will give them more leadership on the backend, which will be needed with Kubina not being resigned, and with defensemen like Enstrom and Bogosian playing more offensive game. Hopefully Brent’s game can rub off on them two.
Overall, if you can break down the two trades, you’ll see that Don Waddell’s Kovalchuk trade might not have been adorned by Thrasher fans, but was well needed, and worked out much better than they had first thought.