To Russia for Money

The breaking news of the Thrashers sending Ilya Kovalchuck, and Anssi Salmela to the Devils for Johnny Oduya, Niclas Bergfors, Patrice Cormier and a first round pick, one thing is clear…The Devils got hosed.
The Devils received one of the most talented players in the NHL in Kovalchuck who has been playing well for the Thrashers this season with 68 points on the season. There is no question that he will provide an excellent offencive punch for New Jersey to help them push to the Stanley Cup this June. That is all fine and dandy but it seems one thing is overlooked.
Kovalchuck is a free-agent at season end, and according to the rumours, he is heading back home.
Unless they come to terms on an agreement. But, it appears that Kovalchuck, he doesn’t want to stick around in the NHL and wants to head back to Russia and the KHL.
Darren Dreger reported on That’s Hockey earlier Thursday, that the Thrashers offered him $500,000 per year more than any other player in the NHL. That is a lot of money.
How could a player turn down that kind of money with the only team he has ever known in his North American professional career, unless there was some underlying issues.
I don’t think Atlanta was the problem, which points to one thing, Kovalchuck wants to return home. Also, with the rumour circulating that the possible deal with a KHL team that could command upwards of $20 million dollars…Per Year!
That is also TAX free and would probably come with most if not all of his expenses paid. Very similar to the deal LeBron James was offered by the Greek basketball team Olympiakos. The one major flaw in that logic, Kovalchuck could be a big name in the KHL or the NHL. Both leagues could make Kovalchuck a global icon. The NBA deals would make their players stars in their own country. Marketing in the NBA has gone so far, they have the chance to be a global icon only in the NBA.
Devils GM Lou Lamoriello is one of the smartest men in all of hockey. This time Thrashers GM Don Wadell appears to have pulled the wool over his eyes.

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February 5, 2010 10:26 am

On the contrary, I think Atlanta was very much a problem for Kovy. Bad ownership, bad market for 8 years= loss of any desire to play there. He just should have come out and said it though rather than stringing management and fans along. They realistically would have gotten more for him at the beginning of the season.

I don’t really think that deal hurts NJ all that much and imagine that looking back on this 10 years from now people will be saying…oh yeah Atlanta got that idiot with the vicious elbow…remember him? and a few other spare parts. Oduya is a solid d-man, but really everything else is a prayer. This makes NJ a legitimate contender for the Eastern conference. Three teams, NJ, Wash, and Pit, all have one of the three best players in the game. It’s going to make for exciting playoffs. Plus I don’t think it is a forgone conclusion that he’ll go to the KHL. I think if a team in a good market was to give him 8.5-9.5 a year he will take it to stay. We’ll see who is right in a few months I guess!

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