In their nine-year existence, the Atlanta Thrashers have qualified for the postseason just one time, failing to win even one playoff game. The one consistent bright spot for seven of those years has been the electrifying talents of forward Ilya Kovalchuk. He's entering the final year of his contract, and negotiations are underway according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution. If they can work out an agreement, it would be the biggest, and most important move in what has already been an impressive offseason that has seen the club trade for defenseman Pavel Kubina to bolster their defense, and also add forward Nik Antropov, a move Kovalchuk had a role in.
Draft Year: 2001
The No. 1 pick by Atlanta in 2001, one spot ahead of Ottawa's Jason Spezza. The most prolific goal-scorer in his class, he's already closing in on 300 career goals (he currently has 297) while no other player taken that year has reached the 150-goal plateau
Why He's On My List
As dominant a goal-scorer as you will find in the NHL, Kovalchuk has scored at least 40 goals in each of the past five seasons, and has developed a pattern of alternating 40-goal and 50-goal performances: 41 in '03-04, 52 in '05-06, 42 in '06-07, 52 in '07-08, and 43 in '08-09. If the pattern continues, you can pencil him in for 52 this upcoming season. Possessing great speed and a lightning-fast shot, Kovalchuk has finished in the top-10 in goals scored six times in his seven-year career, and was tied for the league-lead during the 2003-04 season.
Obligatory YouTube Video
A collection of Kovalchuk's top goals