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.




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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    Kings grab goalie insurance by signing Budaj

    LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 22: Jhonas Enroth #1 and Peter Budaj #31 of the Los Angeles Kings stretch before a game against the Arizona Coyotes at STAPLES Center on September 22, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NHLI via Getty Images)
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    In slightly less interesting Los Angeles Kings news than the latest in the Mike Richards fiasco, the team handed Peter Budaj a one-year, two-way deal on Friday.

    The veteran goalie’s contract pays $575K on the NHL level and $100K in the AHL (though it’s $150K guaranteed), according to Hockey’s Cap.

    At the moment, it sounds like Budaj will be third on the Kings’ goalie depth chart. That says as much about how things have been going lately for Los Angeles than Budaj’s work on a PTO.

    As noted above, one of the more significant moves in Budaj’s favor came when the New York Islanders claimed Jean-Francois Berube off of waivers this week.

    The Kings actually waived Budaj before signing him, so this has to be a relief to a goalie with a fairly robust resume as a backup.

    All apologies to Budaj, but it’s probably true that the Kings would prefer not to see him at the NHL level very often in 2015-16.

    Kings, NHLPA announce settlement in Richards grievance

    Los Angeles Kings v New York Rangers

    The Los Angeles Kings announced today that they have “reached an agreement with Mike Richards to resolve the grievance filed in relation to the termination of his NHL Standard Players Contract. The terms are agreeable to all parties.”

    The club said that it will not be commenting further “on the terms” of the settlement.

    The NHLPA released a similar statement.

    It was reported earlier in the week that a settlement was close to being reached; however, it wasn’t clear what salary-cap penalties the Kings would incur.

    We’re starting to find out some details now:

    How the final numbers differ from what the Kings would have incurred if they’d bought Richards out will be interesting to see. And if there are differences, how will they be justified?

    Stay tuned.