As the details surface, it looks like the Atlanta Thrashers and Ilya Kovalchuk are parting ways.
After months and months of speculation, it looks like the contract talks between the Thrashers and Kovalchuk have come to an end, as TSN reports that General Manager Don Waddell has informed Kovalchuk he will be traded within the next few days.
The race is on.
We don't quite know yet the future of Kovalchuk or the players that will be suiting up for Atlanta after the trade. Waddell is reportedly asking for two roster players, a first round pick, and at least one prospect.
However, information is surfacing to help us understand why this situation has come upon Waddell and his club.
-Kovalchuk's demands: Various news outlets, including TSN and ESPN, have reported that Kovalchuk and his agent Jay Grossman are seeking the league maximum 11.3 million dollars annually and a lifetime term of 10-12 years.
-Waddell's offer: Don has released a statement claiming that he offered Kovalchuk two separate deals: One deal would pay him 101 million dollars over 12 years, for an annual salary of 8.41 million. The other deal offered 70 million for 7 years for an annual salary of 10 million, which would make him the highest paid player in the NHL.
How very unfortunate that this whole situation is over a difference in contract details. I personally feel that if a player says he wants to stay as much as Kovalchuk did, a contract would get done, somehow, some way. Alas, it seems as though Kovalchuk has effectively traded himself with a demand as exorbitant as his.
One has to question Kovalchuk as to why he wants to get paid a full 2 million more than arguably the league's best player Alexander Ovechkin. On the other hand, Kovalchuk always was the face of the Thrashers franchise from the day he was drafted, so he'd like to get paid like one.
At the end of the day, it just sounds like an irreconcilable difference in opinion. Kovalchuk thinks it's worth big bucks to keep him in Atlanta, but Waddell knows he can't commit 20% of his salary limit on one player. Now we stand on the cusp of what will surely be the biggest trade of the year.
For eternal optimists, there is a glimmer of a shadow of hope that Kovalchuk will not get what he wants in free agency and thus may come back to Waddell's offer. But don't hold your breath.
Of course, rumors will be flying left and right until the moment he is traded. Keep your wits about you, and approach all rumor outlets with caution!
Follow me @kdthurst
About the Author
Written by Kevin Thurston