The Atlanta Thrashers traded star left wing Ilya Kovalchuk and Anssi Salmela to the New Jersey Devils in exchange for Patrice Cormier, Johnny Oduya, Niclas Bergfors, a first round pick and a swap of second rounders.
Lou Lamiorello and the Devils receive the centerpiece of the deal as Kovalchuk likely will play the point on the first powerplay unit with either Jamie Langenbrunner or Andy Greene. One of Greene or Langenbrunner should take the place of Bergfors on the right side of the first unit.
If Kovalchuk plays with Zach Parise and Travis Zajac one of the elite wingers should be looking at dual-position eligibility.
In Atlanta, numerous players will see their value take a nosedive as guys like Maxim Afinogenov, Nik Antropov and Rich Peverley will become mortal once more. Without Kovalchuk their play should drop off rendering them far less effective at both even-strength and the powerplay.
The same can be said of the newest Thrashers– in which the players received somewhat resemble the Marian Hossa package. Early reports announced the Devils’ top rated prospect Mattias Tedenby as part of the package but the Thrashers settled for the problematic Cormier.
Bergfors carries the highest ceiling of all the players coming back but he lacks consistency and should see a decrease in his totals due to less talent surrounding him. The rookie produced mainly on the first powerplay unit with names like Parise, Greene, Zajac and Langenbrunner surrounding him.
Oduya should play top-four minutes but for a noticeably worse team that should miss the playoffs. Interesting to see if Cormier will play this season in the NHL or if the Thrashers will respect his current suspension from the QMJHL.
The next question out of Atlanta would be how much more will they sell. Will they now move Antropov and Afinogenov? With the latter an impending UFA it would only make sense to move Bergfors and young players like Evander Kane and Bryan Little to the top of the depth chart by moving more veterans.