The Kovalchuk Fallout
I’ll be the first to admit, I was wrong. While the Devils weren’t one of the most talked about teams, they were mentioned on the Program podcast last night. When I first saw the news of one of the best NHL snipers coming to a division rival my initial reaction was “fuuuuuuuuuu…..” (fill in the blanks, folks).
The best part of it though (and this is grasping) is that we no longer have to hear about where Kovalchuk is going until summertime (unless he re-signs with Jersey). And, we no longer have to hear everyone’s opinion on the matter even if they have no inside sources at all.
But, to the meat of the trade. It ends up like this: Kovalchuk and D Anssi Salmela to Jersey; RW Nicklas Bergfors, D Johnny Oduya, prospect C Patrice Cormier & NJ’s 1st to Atlanta. Obviously Kovalchuk is the biggest piece of the deal, and will help New Jersey immensely. Atlanta was looking for a couple players who can help out now (Bergfors, Oduya) and future help (Cormier, 1st rounder). What does this mean for either team? New Jersey now has a legit sniper aside from Zach Parise, and Atlanta now looks towards the future. Yes, the Thrashers are still in the playoff race, but realistically, their hopes are slim. The Devils were a Cup contender before this deal, and now they are even stronger. On the Program around Christmas time, I said that the Devils would win the Cup (to my own dismay, and the dismay of Chris, who thought I was jinxing his team). I also said last year on a message board that trading Salmela was not the best of ideas, and it seems GM Lou Lamiorello has rectified that by reacquiring the defenseman.
What does this mean for the Flyers? Well folks, looking at the schedule, we get to see old friend Kovalchuk twice next week (one home, one away). It also means we keep our nucleus together, and not giving up multiple pieces for a sure rental player. According to Kevin Allen of USA Today, the Flyers never offered Jeff Carter and wouldn’t move James vanRiemsdyk either.
As for the immediate future, it means that we have another stud to worry about in-conference, on a team we always struggle against. Let’s face it, odds are we are going to run into one of these guys in the playoffs: Ovechkin, Kovalchuk or Crosby. And it’s now do or die for the Devils. If we happen to run into them in the playoffs, honestly, I think it would be sweeter to eliminate them than it would the Capitals or Penguins.
Now that the Devils have Kovalchuk, does that pressure Flyers GM Paul Holmgren to make a panic move? Is he going to stay the course of his original plan, hoping it works? I’d still like to add a veteran defenseman, but we’ll see. During the Olympic break, Mike and myself will be going through potential trade deadline possibilities (if one hasn’t happened by then).
Surprise, surprise, another former Flyer comes back to bite us, as Ryan Potulny scored the game winner for Edmonton last night with 16 seconds left. Michael Leighton played well after sitting for about two weeks, but his counterpart Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers was even better, stopping everything the Flyers threw at him. Fans across Flyer Nation point at this game as one of those “play down to the competition” games, as they had a few nice scoring chances but never kept the pedal down on the last place Oilers. After playing one of their best games of the season a couple nights prior in Calgary, the Flyers played one of their worst in Edmonton.
According to Holmgren, Ray Emery was fine; the night off in Edmonton was just to give him another “maintenance day” as he is a little sore and needed rest. Emery said he wanted to play, and could if needed, but both Holmgren and Peter Laviolette decided to give the goaltender a break. In addition, Holmgren said that he will talk to Emery’s agent after the trade deadline about a possible extension.