First off, let’s get the Trenton stuff out of the way…kind of like how the players seemed to want to get the game out of the way on Wednesday night, actually.
For starters, here’s a bit of a scathing game story from Wednesday night in The Trentonian
Secondly, Andy Thomas is back from his one game call-up. None of my prior comments should be construed as not being happy for him that he called-up, it’s just the opposite, of course…any time one of these guys gets an opportunity at the next level, I’m happy for them. There’s just no reason they had to rob Peter to pay Paul to make that happen.
Also, Jon Howse and Chris Poli have been transferred to the 21-day IR. Howse had 15 games to show he could make an impact and instead added one assist…Poli’s obviously the name people will be watching here.
Now, let’s get to that Ilya Kovalchuk deal, shall we? I know, I know…the Devils and the Thrashers pulled off a trade and an ECHL player wasn’t involved this time, so this isn’t really the place for any sort of commentary on the deal, but how can I not throw in my two cents?
As a hockey fan in general, it’s both exciting and disappointing.
It’s exciting that one of the best players in the world is now about a 45 minute train ride away for me. Truth be told, I go to way more Devils games than Rangers games during a season (Glen and company charging $49.50 just to get into MSG prices me out, for the most part) so I’m happy that Kovalchuk is a Devil to some extent. As my friend Matt, an NJ season ticket holder, told me tonight, the Atlantic Division is now loaded with talent. Well, maybe not the Islanders…but they’re getting there.
But, on the negative side, I’ve been to Philips Arena in Atlanta. Last season, actually. On my way back from Houston, I stopped there because Alexander Ovechkin had a chance to score his 50th goal. The game was nationally televised — if you consider Versus national TV, of course — and I was pretty stunned at the amount of empty seats there were for a game against a division rival in such a nice building. People weren’t going when Kovalchuk was there, what’s going to happen now that he’s gone? Can hockey survive in Atlanta? Or will it fail…again.
Looking at the trade, those who worship at the altar of Lou Lamoriello should be showering their general manager with gifts. I have a lot of respect for Lou as a hockey man, and to be able to pull a deal like this off shows why. He turned a second pair defenseman, an at-best second liner, a prospect whose value had absolutely nosedived after he attempted to decapitate someone in juniors and a first round draft pick that will likely be somewhere in the 20’s (if not #30 after this deal) into Ilya Kovalchuk. AND he got Anssi Salmela. AND he convinced them to swap second round draft picks.
I mean, start the slow clap…
He didn’t give up one, true impact player. Oduya’s a very solid defenseman who never hurts you, but he’s not a top pair guy and isn’t an impact guy. Bergfors is still young and who knows what he’ll develop into, but he’s most likely a middle six forward. Cormier, having read some reports on him, is expected to be a third or even fourth-line NHL’er. And who knows what they’ll get with that first rounder, but nobody who’s ready to jump onto the roster in 2010-11 at that spot in the first round.
And the holes he created on the NHL roster, he filled. Yes, Salmela is a downgrade over Oduya. Salmela’s likely a third pair D-man with some holes in his game from a defensive standpoint. However, in the long-term, he will likely provide more offense than Oduya will. And, uhhh…need I even compare Bergfors to Kovalchuk?
So, bravo to Lou Lamoriello for pulling off an amazing trade. I just wonder if Chris Lamoriello can do anything similar for these Trenton Devils…
Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com