There is no question in my mind that the Atlanta Thrashers are going to trade Ilya Kovalchuk and I believe that the sweepstakes for the star sniper is unofficially on.
That being said, Thrashers' general manager Don Waddell is not in a position that he can go out and make a deal for future considerations such as the Toronto Maple Leafs pick that belongs to the Boston Bruins.
He will not be able to go back and sell that idea to his market right now. He won't be able to sell the idea of a bunch of kids from the Los Angeles Kings like Thomas Hickey and Colten Teubert as the return that he gets on Kovalchuk. If he is going to make a move, it is going to have to be for bigger name players.
The Calgary Flames are a team that may, and I stress MAY, be interested. However if they are, they're going to have to talk about some of the 'big boys' - like Dion Phaneuf amongst others - to be included.
If it's not Phaneuf then there is a good chance that the Chicago Blackhawks will be interested. I'm not saying that talks have been made, but I am saying that guys like Patrick Sharp or Cam Barker or David Bolland will be in the mix. Legitimate, bonafide NHL players are what Waddell is looking for in return and he is looking for a couple of them.
I think that at the end of the day, both Chicago and Calgary will be in that group to pursue Kovalchuk and pursue him hard.