The Ottawa Senators have a distinct shortage of offensively dynamic forwards, both in the short-term (especially with all the injuries the team is dealing with right now) and the long-term (I would struggle to name one blue-chip, shoo-in forward prospect in Ottawa's system right now). Ilya Kovalchuk is one of the league's most offensively dynamic superstar forwards, and is one who would instantly upgrade the Senators' forward ranks. As an impending UFA, there's a risk that any deal made would end up as a rental, but the Atlanta Thrashers are going to want true value for Kovalchuk, including notably a few pieces around which they can continue to rebuild their organization.
Given that contract talks haven't progressed and the Thrashers would be silly to let him walk for nothing (we're talking even worse than John Muckler letting Zdeno Chara silly), The Falconer over at brother SBN blog Bird Watchers Anonymous put out a demand to his network comrades: Give me your best offer. He put a couple of conditions, though:
I'm offering 1) only Kovalchuk [so no other players, and no picks], 2) for extent of current contract and 3) first right to extend him before July 1st UFA kicks in. That's it, no "sign and trade" offers please!
And what he's looking for:
GM will want a roster player and a quality prospect(s) Conditional 1st rounder(s) if Kovalchuk re-signs with your club. No goalies needed (team has three already) Not looking for over 33 guys or bloated contracts (sorry no Campbell or Huet)
With all that in mind, I think the Ottawa Senators would be wise to get in on the sweepstakes. Were it up to me, I'd phone up Don Waddell and offer him...
(Read more... )
LW Ilya Kovalchuk
RW Alex Kovalev
D Brian Lee
Conditional 2010 second-round pick*
Conditional 2011 second-round pick*
Conditions: 2010 second-rounder guaranteed, upgrades to first if Kovalchuk extends in Ottawa; 2011 second-rounder conditional on extension.
My thinking: Ottawa doesn't really have the cap space to re-sign Kovalchuk, anyway, unless it's a sweet deal for Ottawa (and why the hell would Kovalchuk sign one of those?). If his contract is going to be the $11M cap hit people are suggesting, there's no way Ottawa would be able to extend him. If it's around $8M, Ottawa could certainly get his name on a long-term deal, and would have to in order to make the deal worthwhile. So the Senators lose a player who's underperforming, and would likely not have been re-signed after his current contract expired at the end of next year. They also lose a former first-round pick who appears to have already been written out of the organization's future in Lee, but the Senators' defence is already set for the future. If Kovalchuk doesn't extend in Ottawa, the Senators lose one second-rounder in 2010, but have a second one they got one in the Dany Heatley trade. If he re-signs, the Senators lose a 2010 first-rounder and a 2011 second-rounder, but they have Kovalchuk in the stable.
Atlanta could probably get a better offer than this, though. What they get here, though, is a bit of offence to (try and) replace Kovalchuk, a defensive prospect who would likely walk on to a woeful defence corps and be top-four, plus draft picks--at least one second-rounder, maybe a first- and second-rounder.
Do I think this will happen? Not really; the Senators will be hard-pressed to find room for a Kovalchuk contract extension, and acquiring a rental for a far-from-clinched playoff run is a pretty hefty risk. But considering the possible payoff, the risk would be a calculated one.
I leave you with a question to consider: If you were the Senators' GM, what would you offer to trade for Ilya Kovalchuk?