Wednesday, February 3, 2010
Kovalchuk on way out, Canes/Sharks close in on deal
Well, it looks like we shouldn't have to wait too much longer on Ilya Kovalchuk. The electrifying 26 year-old Russian superstar appears to be on his way out of Hotlanta. According to TSN, Thrasher GM Don Waddell told Kovy to expect a trade very soon. Whether it's hours or days, the former 2001 No.1 overall pick who's spent his entire eight-year NHL career in Atlanta looks to be concluding that phase. If you like funny images, be sure to check out this one of the sniper looking over the prospects.
In 594 career games, Kovalchuk has scored 328 goals becoming one of the game's most explosive finishers. The list of accomplishments includes Olympic bronze ('02), Young Stars MVP ('01-02), All-Rookie Team ('01-02), Second All-Star Team along with the Rocket Richard in '03-04 (41 goals) and three All-Star appearances ('03-04, '07-08, '08-09). Along with the 328 markers, he's closing in on 300 assists with his 287 just 13 shy. Earlier this season, he reached a career milestone hitting 600 points. In 49 contests, Kovy ranks fifth in goals (31), 12th in points (58) and tied for sixth in power play goals (10). His 19 power play points and 179 shots on goal pace the Thrashers, putting him at atop five different offensive categories with his 27 helpers tied with Rich Peverley.
There are at least half a dozen clubs interested in the soon to be 27 year-old UFA this summer. Not surprisingly, LA, Chicago and the Flames lead a list that includes the Devils, Rangers, Bruins and Flyers. Does this mean the Caps have dropped out and the Pens aren't in? If they had the resources, Kovalchuk would be perfect for the Islanders, giving them a marquee attraction to help build around. Their system is loaded but given the uncertainty surrounding the arena, figure them to be on the outside. It would be a shock if the Rangers had enough to land him. We'd much rather see Slats chase a crease clearer to bolster a weak D.
If nothing happens tonight and it looks like it may hold off for the time being, at the very least, the Canes and Sharks are closing in on a deal that would send defenseman Niclas Wallin to San Jose. The 34 year-old vet has valuable Cup experience having helped Carolina win it all in 2005-06. He'd have to waive his no-trade which is likely considering he isn't in the Canes' lineup tonight versus Calgary.
Hitchcock Fired: In other news which was expected, the Blue Jackets fired coach Ken Hitchcock, who just a year ago guided the franchise to their first ever postseason. This year, it's all fallen apart under Captain Kangaroo. With little scoring and no goaltending with Steve Mason falling into the dreaded sophomore jinx, it was all too predictable. I wouldn't mind seeing John Tortorella axed given his baffling in-game decisions.