Kovalchuck was traded to the New Jersey Devils on Thursday for defenseman Johnny Oduya, rookie forward Niclas Bergfors, junior prospect Patrice Cormier and a first-round draft pick. Other than a cursory conversation or two, the Hawks and Thrashers never got serious about the impending free-agent.
The implication of such information is that the Hawks are not bent on dumping salary before this year’s trade deadline. Both general manager Stan Bowman and Hawks owner Rocky Wirtz have said as much in recent interviews. Winning now and worrying about the cap later has been intimated -- if not outright declared -- in those interviews. This non-interest in Kovalchuk backs that up and also implies the Hawks are satisfied with their offense.
On paper, there seemed to be a fit between the teams if the Hawks had wanted to pursue Kovaluchuk. In fact, the players the Devils sent back were exactly the type that conceivably were expendable for the Hawks. The only difference is in the money that they make. Atlanta would have had to take on more if a trade with the Hawks had been consummated. And its unknown if the Hawks would have had a prospect to the Thrashers liking.
It’s a moot point now. With the biggest name off the market, the Hawks will more than likely look to add a defenseman or do nothing. Then there’s that goaltending situation, but any move in that department would be a long shot.