After last night’s Chuck Kobasew trade, there is further speculation that the Bruins are loading up to acquired sniper Ilya Kovalchuk out of Atlanta. Kovalchuk is an elite player, in the same category as Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Alexander Ovechkin. He is entering his prime, only 26 years of age, and in his 8th pro season already. He has never scored below 38 goals except for his rookie season, and has played with current Bruin pivot Marc Savard.
People are debating whether Kovalchuk will re-sign with the Thrashers, but if he does not sign before mid November, he will likely play the season out. He would be stupid not to see his options, as it is clear Atlanta isn’t winning a Cup anytime soon, although they are heading in the right direction. For all intent and purposes, let’s say he is available for trade.
No other team has the assets the Bruins have. First off, we have 9 picks in the first two rounds of the draft in the next two years. We also have that with a combination of young talent. It would take a bounty to acquire Kovalchuk, but it is worth it. What would it take? Try Joe Colborne, Mikko Lehtonen, 2011 1st (Toronto), 2010 2nd (Boston) and a conditional 2011 4th (if Kovalchuk re-signs).
Now we assume a contract cannot be negotiated until after the deal takes place. There is NO WAY you can let him walk. This is a top 5 player in his prime in the league. You trade players to make this work. Sign Kovalchuk to a 12 year, 72 million dollar deal (6 per) which will take him to the age of 38. Breakdown as 12, 11, 9, 9, 8, 7, 4, 4, 3, 3, 1, 1. Now to make cap room for his 6 million cap hit, Marc Savard is all but gone. Mark Recchi retires, Derek Morris is likely gone unless retained at a lesser cap hit. Andrew Ference is gone as well.
If you estimate Wheeler at 3 million, Stuart at 2.1, Thornton at same money, and Rask at 1 million, buyouts included, you have 2.827 million dollars in cap space (capgeek.com) to fill in one defensive spot.