Slow down with Kovalchuk talk

Slow down with Kovalchuk talk

Posted by TimS on Mon, 01/04/2010 - 20:43
If I have learned anything in 22 years covering the Blackhawks and the NHL, it's that anything is possible. Wayne Gretzky was traded. The Hawks rose from the dead. And the Carolina Hurricanes won a Stanley Cup. Which brings me to Ilya Kovalchuk. ESPN.com's Pierre LeBrun, as solid a hockey writer as there is anywhere, wrote the other day about being told by a Western Conference official that he wouldn't be surprised if the Hawks got in on the Kovalchuk trade situation, assuming the Atlanta Thrashers decide to deal their star winger. That's not even an official rumor, folks. It's simply an executive telling a writer he wouldn't be surprised if the Hawks inquired about Kovalchuk. First off, nobody is convinced the Thrashers will trade Kovalchuk, who would be an unrestricted free agent on July 1. They want to re-sign him, and Kovalchuk has said he likes Atlanta. Kovalchuk wants a lot of money, like $9 million or $10 million a year, and it's hard to believe the Thrashers wouldn't give him what he wants. Isn't that a no-brainer, given the state of hockey in Atlanta? If Kovalchuk goes maybe the team does too. Face it, the Hawks are going to be mentioned in every trade rumor from now well into until next summer because of their salary cap problems, so it's easy for an exec to speculate he wouldn't be surprised if the Hawks get involved in the Kovalchuk stuff once there is something to get involved with. The Hawks do have a lot of assets, but how many of them would it take to get an elite player such as Kovalchuk? I'm thinking possibly two top-nine forwards, a defenseman and maybe a high draft pick or two. That's a lot to give up for a guy who might be just a rental. What's more important, do the Hawks want to risk messing with what might be the best dressing room, chemistry-wise, in the NHL? My guess would be no. This is a great hockey team right now. Would it be better minus, say, Patrick Sharp, Kris Versteeg and Cam Barker, and Kovalchuk in their place? Maybe it would, but maybe it wouldn't. I've got to think the Hawks believe they already have their big-ticket goal scorer in Marian Hossa, locked up for 12 years. Then again, anything is possible, especially with this front office that thinks so much out of the box. But for now it's a non-story.
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