Ilya Kovalchuk trade impact on Devils, Thrashers

Kovy.jpgIlya Kovalchuk was supposed to be the Moses of the Atlanta Thrashers. Even from his first season, few could doubt the left winger’s all-world goal scoring abilities. Before Alex Ovechkin came along, it seemed like “Kovy” was going to be the heir apparent to Pavel Bure as an unstoppable Russian goal scoring machine. Either way, he was supposed to be a superstar who led the Thrashers to the Promised Land.

Of course, that already-cratering dream came crashing down forever in February 2010 when Kovalchuk forced the franchise’s hand (or did GM Don Waddell finally lose his patience? Or something in between?) and the team moved Kovalchuk to Newark. Tonight will provide an awkward reunion for the sniper and his former team, especially since a Kovalchuk goal could drive the final nail into the coffin for Atlanta’s playoff hopes.

Rather than discussing the merits of Atlanta fans booing (or applauding) the former star, I thought it would be more constructive to take a look at how Kovalchuk, the Devils and the Thrashers played since the big move. The first spreadsheet includes Kovalchuk’s stats along with New Jersey’s win-loss record. The second provides the Thrashers’ results without the face of their franchise. Notice how similar the two team’s records are (despite Atlanta’s horrible powerplay). Naturally, click the two spreadsheets to better read the results.

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Again, the two teams’ results are strikingly similar; New Jersey is 10-9-4 with Kovalchuk while Atlanta is 10-8-5 without him. Numbers-wise, Kovalchuk is still a point per game player (9 goals, 14 assists for 23 points in 23 games) and hasn’t hurt his team with costly penalties. I heard some rumors from sources including The New York Post that the Devils will wait until after the playoffs to negotiate with Kovalchuk. That seems like a reasonable train of thought to me; after all, Devils GM Lou Lamoriello isn’t exactly known for handing out big contracts, particularly to seemingly one-dimensional players. That being said, Kovalchuk has a chance to prove his value during the playoffs (although he might prove himself so valuable that he prices himself out of New Jersey).

In other words, there’s a decent chance that he might have yet another awkward reunion next year – only that time around it would happen in Newark.

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    Seidenberg doesn’t want to think about waiving no-trade

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    Another offseason, another round of trade talks surrounding Dennis Seidenberg.

    Boston’s veteran defenseman — who, last year, said he wanted to stay in Boston, then told reporters being involved in trade rumors was a “slap in the face” — is now facing another round of questions.

    Why?

    Seidenberg’s full no-trade clause expires in December. After that, it becomes a modified NTC in which he submits a list of eight teams he’s willing to accept a move to.

    More, from the Boston Herald:

    “No, nothing was mentioned,” Seidenberg said [of being asked to waive]. “I’m planning to come back here. I’ve got two more years here, so we’ll see.”

    And if management came to him sooner asking him to waive his no-trade?

    “I haven’t thought about that . . . and right now I don’t want to think about it,” he said.

    Seidenberg has said in the past that if the team didn’t want him any more, then he’d be amenable to a move.

    Boston’s in a bit of a tricky spot with the soon-to-be-35-year-old.

    Injuries have really taken their toll since he signed a four-year, $16 million extension in ’13. Specifically, a torn ACL and last year’s back injury, which cost him the first four weeks of the campaign and seemed to throw his entire season out of whack.

    Seidenberg certainly isn’t part of Boston’s future on defense, but could have some value across the league as a veteran depth guy.

    If you’re thinking “hey, $4M is a pretty hefty cap hit for a depth d-man,” remember that GM Don Sweeney could facilitate a move by retaining some salary. Financially, it wouldn’t be much different that buying Seidenberg out — something the Herald floated as a potential move — and there could be the potential to net an actual asset in return.

    Of course, the B’s could stand pat and hope Seidenberg gets healthy, and contributes.

    Do remember that, after returning from that serious knee injury, the German rearguard appeared in all 82 games during the ’14-15 campaign, scoring 14 points while averaging over 22 minutes per night.

    Jagr confirms he’s not available for Czechs at World Cup

    SOCHI, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 14: Jaromir Jagr #68 of Czech Republic looks on in the first period against Latvia during the Men's Ice Hockey Preliminary Round Group C game on day seven of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics at Bolshoy Ice Dome on February 14, 2014 in Sochi, Russia.  (Photo by Martin Rose/Getty Images)
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    PRAGUE (AP) The Czech Republic will have to do without Jaromir Jagr at the World Cup of Hockey after the star winger confirmed he won’t be available to compete in September.

    Czech Republic general manager Martin Rucinsky says Jagr announced his decision in a telephone call over the weekend.

    Jagr retired from the national team after last year’s world championship, and was not included in the first 16 players for the Czech’s World Cup squad.

    But Rucinsky hoped the 44-year-old Jagr would change his view after yet another decent NHL season. Jagr led the Florida Panthers with 66 points (27 goals, 39 assist) in 79 games in the regular season, and added two assists in the playoffs.

    Rucinsky told Tuesday’s edition of the Sport daily he respects Jagr’s decision.

    The Blues could sure use a goal or two from Tarasenko

    SAN JOSE, CA - MAY 19:  Vladimir Tarasenko #91 of the St. Louis Blues and Marc-Edouard Vlasic #44 of the San Jose Sharks fight for control of the puck in game three of the Western Conference Finals during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at SAP Center on May 19, 2016 in San Jose, California.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
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    The “hard lessons” continued last night for Vladimir Tarasenko. For a fifth straight game — i.e. the entire Western Conference Final — the Blues’ sniper went goalless. In his last three games combined, he’s managed just four shots total.

    “He’s a guy that’s struggled this series,” conceded coach Ken Hitchcock after Game 5, a 6-3 loss that put St. Louis on the brink of elimination. “He’s struggled offensively. He hasn’t got the looks offensively that he normally gets. But he’s one shift away from breaking it open.”

    Tarasenko was a big reason the Blues got through the first two rounds. The 24-year-old had four goals against Chicago, then potted three more versus Dallas. In 14 games, he had 13 points.

    Against the Sharks, he doesn’t even have an assist. And if plus-minus still means anything, he’s a minus-four.

    Credit to the under-appreciated Marc-Edouard Vlasic, and his defensive partner Justin Braun, for much of that.

    “Take away his time and space,” Vlasic said when asked the key to shutting down Tarasenko. “Our forwards have been doing a good job as well supporting us. Good back pressure does not allow them to have one-on-ones with our D.”

    Not to downplay the challenges he’s facing, but if Tarasenko doesn’t start contributing offensively, the Blues are going to find it extremely tough to beat San Jose two straight times. During the regular season, he scored 40 of the Blues’ 224 goals. That’s almost 20 percent of them. Yes, some of his teammates need to step up too, but he’s the one with the most goal-scoring talent.

    “It’s like any other goal-scorer, when they don’t score, there’s a frustration level that comes in,” said Hitchcock. “It’s my job to make sure and correct the frustration level if I can.”

    B’s turf another assistant — Jarvis out, Pandolfo and Cassidy in

    EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - FEBRUARY 14:  Associate coach Doug Jarvis of the Montreal Canadiens looks on against the New Jersey Devils at Continental Airlines Arena on February 14, 2007 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The Devils won 5-2. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
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    Boston continued to shake up Claude Julien’s coaching staff on Monday, as GM Don Sweeney announced that longtime assistant Doug Jarvis would not be back next season.

    Longtime NHLer Jay Pandolfo and Bruce Cassidy — who had spent the last five years as the head coach of Boston’s AHL affiliate — have been named as Julien’s new assistants, joining Joe Sacco and Bob Essensa on staff.

    Earlier, Sweeney had dismissed Julien’s longtime right-hand man, Doug Houda. Houda has since landed an assistant’s gig in Detroit.

    In Cassidy, the B’s get an experienced bench boss. He served as the head man in Washington from 2002-04, then as an assistant in Chicago before moving on to a lengthy stint in the American League.

    One would think Cassidy is an at-the-ready replacement for Julien, should the team struggle and Sweeney is forced to make a more significant coaching change next season.

    In Pandolfo, Boston gets a local guy — he’s a Massachusetts native that played collegiately at Boston University. At the tail end of a lengthy career that included two Stanley Cups with New Jersey, Pandolfo wrapped up his playing days with the Bruins, then moved into a player development role.

    In another hire, Sweeney announced that announced the club has hired Paul Whissel as the Bruins Director of Sports Performance and Rehab.

    Related: Julien will be back behind B’s bench, Sweeney has ‘work to do’