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Dreger: Breaking down the Kovalchuk deal

Darren Dreger

2/4/2010 10:24:40 PM

The naysayer's have already surfaced with the prediction Thrashers' general manager Don Waddell should expect to get chastised by his fans for not getting enough for a bona fide superstar in Ilya Kovalchuk.

In Johnny Oduya, the Thrashers pick up a safe player, according to a rival NHL manager. Oduya, is an excellent puck moving defenseman who logs a lot of ice time and played exceptionally well in the sometimes stifling New Jersey system. The 28-year-old also has two years remaining on his contract which buys the thrashers some stability.

Losing Oduya hurts New Jersey.

Rookie forward Niclas Bergfors has shown he has some offensive flare as his 13 goals will attest. He's not considered to be a game-breaking player, but rather a young player who is still finding his way in the league.

In Patrice Cormier, Atlanta gets the same uncertainty as they might have with the first round draft pick that was included to close this deal. There's a good chance Cormier develops into a top-nine forward on a team, however at the moment he's most noted for remainder of the year suspension he received from the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League for elbowing Ramparts defenseman Mikael Tam.

New Jersey sees the Eastern Conference as wide open and this often goal starved team was in need of an offensive boost.

Acquiring Kovalchuk gives the Devils more than a boost. As an Eastern Conference rival executive points out, "there has been a shift in power; New Jersey is now a force to be reckoned with."

Now the big question is… will the Devils be able to re-sign Kovalchuk, or is the 12-year, $101 million dollar deal Waddell says Kovalchuk turned down to stay in Atlanta too rich for the usually conservative devils?

Sources say those numbers may have scared away other potential trade partners, leaving the Devils as Atlanta's best option.