Kicking the Tires on Kovalchuk

When the Atlanta Thrashers dealt Ilya Kovalchuk to the New Jersey Devils last night, it threw the hockey community into a state of disbelief. Pundits, analysts and lauded experts will continue to dissect this trade for the next few weeks because that’s what the talking heads at the sports networks are paid to do. Prepare to have your brain oversaturated with the opinions of failed GMs on the likelihood that Kovalchuk will resign in New Jersey.

And when there are opinions, there will be concerns. Was it was prudent for Atlanta to assume Lance “The Bionic Elbow” Cormier’s baggage? How could the Thrashers consummate the deal without acquiring either of Jacob Josefson or Mattias Tedenby? Will Ilya Kovalchuk could have the offensive life sucked out of him by Jacques Lemaire? Did the Devils give up too much for what could wind up being an expensive rental? Having lost Oduya (trade) and Martin (injury), who will play defence for the Devils? Blah, blah, blah…

And then details of the trade negotiations will leak to the public. Like finding out that the Ottawa Senators were one of the mystery teams that kicked the tires on Kovalchuk.

Huwhat!?!?!

According to the USA Today’s Kevin Allen, that’s the news that was revealed last night via Twitter. While there may be some tepid, conservatist reservations that Bryan Murray would tinker with a lineup that has now won 11 consecutive games, it’s important to stress that Murray could have very well have been just doing his due diligence. Maybe all he did was ask what it would take for him to acquire Kovalchuk.

At the very least, this should refreshing news for the guys over at the Ottawa Sun that Bryan Murray is exploring every avenue in an effort to improve the roster. Brennan and Garrioch have been hammering away on the fact that Jonathan Cheechoo has team worst plus/minus while playing the least amount of minutes. (Ed. note: That statistic obviously doesn’t include Donovan’s average ice-time. They must be referring to regulars.)

They do raise a valid case against Cheechoo though and it really does make me wonder when management will have seen enough. Yes, is likeable and his work ethic is exemplary and yes, it might not be the classiest thing to do when the team is winning. However, hockey is ultimately a business. If management is serious about making a trade an icing the best team for the playoffs, Bryan Murray is eventually going to have to bite the bullet on Cheechoo’s salary and bury it in the minors to accomodate any incoming salary.

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