The Ilya Kovalchuk sweepstakes is taking over the NHL, and now that it appears as if his time in Atlanta is coming to a close, the internet is on fire with trade rumors, updates and opinions from every corner.
Where is he going? Who is giving up what? Who is in? Who is out? It's enough to make your head explode.
Consider this our one-stop shop/link dump for all of the latest and greatest updates from around the web, and our own thoughts and opinions until this ordeal finally ends. Or until we get bored. Whichever one comes first.
February 4, 2010: (8:20 PM ET)
Kevin Allen, who knocked it out of the park all day today, reports, via Twitter, that Kovalchuk is going to New Jersey for defenseman Johnny Oduya, forward Niclas Bergfors, troubled prospect Patrice Cormier and a first-round pick. Defenseman Anssi Salmela is also headed to New Jersey. The Thrashers acquired Salmela from New Jersey prior to last year's trade deadline.
Gretz says: About what you'd expect. Oduya and Bergfors are solid players, sure, but the Atlanta Thrashers are a significantly weaker team than they were 24 hours ago. Outstanding trade (in my opinion) for the Devils as they instantly become a serious favorite to represent the Eastern Conference. More to come later tonight...
February 4, 2010: (6:50 PM ET)
Kevin Allen from USA Today reports, via Twitter, that Kovalchuk will be traded to an Eastern Conference team tonight. [@kausatoday]
Gretz says: Devils? Bruins? Rangers? Capitals?
Well, maybe not. Bob McKenzie tweets that it's not Boston and it's not the Rangers.
February 4, 2010 (3:15 PM ET)
The Atlanta Thrashers have released a statement, and general manager Don Waddell claims the team offered a 12-year deal worth over $101 million.
"Ultimately, we offered Kovy more than $101 million over 12 years, which would have been the highest contract signed by an impending unrestricted free agent in the history of the league. If accepted, this contract would have been the second highest offer ever to any NHL player. We also met his desire to be the highest paid player based on average annual salary with a separate offer of 7 years at $10M per year ($70M). This offer is $0.5M higher per year than any other player. If we went beyond these offers, we would not be able to retain the young players on our roster when it came time to sign them, or invest in other top tier players needed to assemble a truly competitive team. Therefore, we are aggressively exploring all of our options as we move forward."
Gretz Says: I disagree with the last part in bold, and as I argued a couple of weeks ago I think that's a very poor excuse. They should just come out and admit they either: 1) don't want to pay a player that close to the league max, or 2) don't feel Kovalchuk is worth that sort of contract.
And I could understand them (or anybody) having such a viewpoint.
But at least be honest about it and don't hide behind the "well, we need to keep our other players and sign other guys" excuse.
First, every team that's a serious contender has big money tied up in at least one player (some teams have big money tied up in more than one player). It's stating the obvious, but: good teams have good players, and good players make a lot of money.
As I've pointed out before, the Thrashers are going to have to spend money on somebody this offseason just to reach the cap floor, and no matter who they spend it on they're not going to get a player as good as Kovalchuk.
Plus, when has Atlanta ever shown a desire to invest in top tier players or put a competitive team on the ice? Every such player that's played in Atlanta has ultimately moved on for one reason or another. Kovalchuk is just next in line.
February 4, 2010 (2:02 PM ET)
Chris Botta Says: We first reported it on Wednesday and I want to stand by my source a day later. The Boston Bruins are making a legitimate pitch to the Thrashers for Ilya Kovalchuk. Their offers are with Kovalchuk in mind as a rental. The Bruins have let Atlanta know that they want to be in the running until the end.
If you're Don Waddell, you can trade Kovalchuk and still sleep at night. It's not like the lower bowl at Philips is going to get any less crowded.
February 4, 2010 (1:30 PM ET)
Custance on the Sharks as mystery team:
Slusser Says: I just don't see it unless the Sharks are convinced Marleau won't be back next year and they can deal for Kovalchuk and sign him long-term immediately. San Jose is pretty set with scoring, I see them trying to get some help on the D.
A team that needs scoring, and pronto: Detroit. And the Red Wings usually wind up in the midst of these big-name midseason deals somehow.
February 4, 2010 (1:15 PM ET)
Craig Custance offers up his thoughts on who the "mystery team" might be ... the San Jose Sharks?! [Sporting News]
Gretz Says: That's just crazy enough to work. Cup or bust!
February 4, 2010 (12:30 PM ET)
Kevin Allen of USA Today on twitter (@Kusatoday): "Just told that the Kovalchuk deal "probably" won't happen today. Too many teams interested. But let's see how day goes."
After sleeping on it, Elliotte Friedman of CBC has a nice breakdown of what might be happening. [CBC]
Larry Brooks of the New York Post claims the asking price is absurd. [Twitter]
Dmitry Chesnokov, who is pretty much the go-to-guy when it comes to news and information involving Russian hockey players, said on Twitter (@dchesnokov) early this afternoon that "I am pretty sure Kovalchuk is traveling with the team to DC this afternoon. I expect him to play tomorrow."
Gretz says: I have nothing to base this on, as it's simply my own speculation, but I have a suspicion that no trade is close and that Waddell is simply hoping some desperate general manager will hear all of this clutter and give into his demands. Given past history in Atlanta it wouldn't surprise me if his phone wasn't even plugged in.