With just over a month to go before the NHL’s trade deadline, Atlanta Thrashers superstar Ilya Kovalchuk is officially on the market.
Multiple sources have indicated to The Hockey News the Thrashers have had significant trade talks with the Los Angeles Kings concerning moving Kovalchuk there in recent days. They reportedly presented the Kings with a shopping list of what it would take to get Kovalchuk and it’s believed that while the Kings would be very interested in adding a scorer of Kovalchuk’s ability to their group of young stars, the asking price is currently more than GM Dean Lombardi is willing to surrender.
It’s not known exactly what the Thrashers asked for from the Kings, but it’s believed to be a list that includes significant roster players and prospects. There is speculation that the group of roster players includes the likes of defenseman Jack Johnson and/or Oscar Moller or Wayne Simmonds and the prospects include 2009 first-rounder Brayden Schenn, along with defenseman Colton Teubert, Brandon Kozun and Andrei Loktionov. Kozun is currently second in the Western League in scoring and Schenn is 13th.
Any team trading for Kovalchuk would also want to be able to speak with the player prior to the deal to determine whether or not it might be able to sign him long-term, which is another potential hurdle to any deal. With Kovalchuk under a long-term deal, it’s obvious he would be worth a lot more than as a two-month rental.
While Kovalchuk is definitely being shopped at the moment, that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s going to move. However, most observers around the NHL think it’s certain he will be traded before the March 3 deadline.
“There are ownership issues in Atlanta as well, which complicates things,” said one NHL executive. “There’s a chance the organization is worth more with Kovalchuk, even if he wants $10 million. My feeling is they’re still trying to sign him and I don’t blame them for doing that.”
But if that proves fruitless, the Kings could be a destination that bears watching as the deadline gets closer. All of which is an interesting dynamic for the Kings, who, for the first time in years, will find themselves as buyers at the trade deadline instead of sellers.
Ken Campbell, author of the book Habs Heroes, is a senior writer for The Hockey News and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog will appear Wednesdays and Fridays and his column, Campbell’s Cuts, appears Mondays.
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