Let's Make a Deal: Kovalchuk for Phaneuf Is a Real Possibility

Steve McSween@dansallowsSenior Analyst IJanuary 5, 2010

If the rumors that keep swirling out of Calgary are indeed true, and Dion Phaneuf has requested a trade, don't be surprised if Ilya Kovalchuk is on the Flames radar.

It is common knowledge that Kovalchuk is quickly becoming a well sought after commodity as his pending free agent status looms over the head of Atlanta Thrashers GM Don Waddell as the NHL trade deadline draws near.

And why not, I mean who wouldn't want a 6'2" 235 lbs. scoring dynamo that has put up 604 points over the last nine seasons. Kovalchuk scores more than a young Warren Beatty in a sorority house.

With that productivity, there is no doubt he will be seeking Alexander Ovechkin money in the $9 million per year range.

Phaneuf meanwhile, has been in a few reported shouting matches with coach Brent Sutter, and it has recently been rumored that he requested a trade.

Despite his defensive shortcomings at times, the 24-year-old Phaneuf is still valuable on the trade front, and the Flames may just be one of the few teams that could put together an impressive package when it comes to young prospects like Mikael Backlund, Greg Nemisz, Tim Erixon and Matt Pelech.

There is an outside chance that Philadelphia could be in on this mix as well, as Jeff Carter's name has been thrown around more often than a beachball at a Nickelback concert. Phaneuf would bolster a Philly defense core that has struggled at times this season, while both he and Carter could use a change of address.

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As of now though, Calgary needs another scoring threat and they have a plethora of talent on their blueline-something that Atlanta doesn't have once you look past Tobias Enstrom and 32-year-old Pavel Kubina.

And with the Thrasher's running out of time to lock Kovalchuk up to a long-term deal, I'm sure Waddell would rather get something in return than see him walk for nothing come July, 1st.

In dumping Phaneuf's $6 million deal, and with Olli Jokinen and Rene Bourque up for free agency come July 1st, Flames GM Darryl Sutter would have money to spend when it came down to locking up the Russian sniper to a deal.

And if Sutter couldn't retain his services, at the very least Kovalchuk may just be the last piece of the puzzle Calgary's been missing to get them deep into the playoffs and challenge for the Stanley Cup. He could then turn around resign Bourque and Jokinen, go after another free agent of his choice, and still be competitive next season.

It's a win-win situation right?

Let's face it, the Flames have scored two or less goals twenty times this season in forty-one games thus far, which simply isn't good enough when you have compete with teams like San Jose, Chicago, Vancouver and Colorado on a nightly basis.

Kovalchuk, would be that dynamic that Calgary is seriously lacking.

Maybe Frederick Wilcox said it best, "Progress always involves risks. You cannot steal second base and keep your foot on first." And when it comes to this season's addition of the Calgary Flames, they definitely need to take a few risks to get to second base.