Ilya Kovalchuk Traded To New Jersey Devils

Ilya Kovalchuk has been traded to the New Jersey Devils, in exchange for Johnny Oduya and Niclas Bergfors.

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Full Trade Details: Kovalchuk Not The Only New Devil

Obviously, Ilya Kovalchuk is the star in Thursday night’s big trade, but he’s not the only lucky new resident of the Garden State.

Also moving from Atlanta to New Jersey is Anssi Salmela, a young Finnish defenseman who the Devils were quite fond of before they traded him for Niclas Havelid last March. The Devils also receive Atlanta’s second round pick this season.

Heading south to Atlanta for Kovalchuk, Salmela and the pick are defenseman Johnny Oduya, winger Nicklas Bergfors, prospect Patrice Cormier and New Jersey’s first and second round picks this season.

Salmela won’t replace Oduya on the Devils blueline, but he does have the potential to be a second pairing defenseman in the NHL.

Cormier is a bit of a wild child, best known for his recent season-long suspension from the QMJHL following an elbow he delivered to the head of an opponent. Bergfors is a young forward who has a lot of potential as well and is already an NHL player at age 22.

To summarize...

To New Jersey: Ilya Kovalchuk, Anssi Salmela, Atlanta's 2010 2nd round pick

To Atlanta: Johnny Oduya, Niklas Bergfors, Patrice Cormier, New Jersey's 2010 1st and 2nd round picks


McKenzie: 'Kovalchuk Will Be Traded Tonight'

Bob McKenzie of TSN is reporting Thursday night that Ilya Kovalchuk will be traded “tonight,” through Twitter. He is also saying that it won’t be the Rangers nor the Bruins. Rumors are coming out that the New Jersey Devils are the front runners.


TSN Analyst Denounces Rumor, Thrashers Blogger Responds

Last night, TSN's Bob McKenzie denounced a rumor that Thrashers forward Ilya Kovalchuk was on the verge of heading to the Los Angeles Kings in a trade. The rumor originated from a source close to SB Nation's Thrashers blog, Bird Watchers Anonymous. It was picked up by our general hockey blog, From The Rink, which was credited by ESPN Insider as the source for the rumor.

Here's what BWA wrote at 9:29 Eastern last night:

I'm hearing some chatter that a deal between the Thrashers and LA Kings is very close. I'm not 100% on this, but I consider it strong enough to post for your information.

Here's what FTR's Cory Lavalette had to say about 20 minutes later:

Atlanta Thrashers left wing Ilya Kovalchuck (sic), this year's top catch on the NHL's trade market, may be on his way to Hollywood. Sources are rumbling that a deal is nearly complete that would send Atlanta's franchise player to the Kings. There are currently no details on what the Thrashers would receive in return for one of the NHL's top snipers.

McKenzie then went on to post several messages on Twitter denouncing the rumor, stating that it was 'amateur hour,' among other things. You can view those messages individually here (one, two, and three).

Here they are combined for consumption:

You know what I think of these rumors of the LAK on verge of getting Kovalchuk? Total BS. Some interest but fit isn't right at this point. Will spend more time on bogus reports than actual trades. It's the silly season. Amateur hour. Like New Year's Eve and St. Patrick's Day. :) Now, if Kovalchuk goes to LA everyone will say it was good scoop. Telling u, at this time, there's no merit. Take it for what it's worth.

Bird Watchers Anonymous fired back this morning saying that while they don't make habit of turning their site into a rumor mill, they had 'reason to believe it might be true' and that it was heard from 'someone who was in a position to know or at least hear things' so they 'chose to put it out there for public consumption.'

After mentioning how much respect they have for McKenzie as a journalist (and McKenzie is one of the most respected men in the business), BWA continued with this:

It is true that I published this rumor in the hope of getting ahead of everyone else. Over the years I've known some delicious scoops about the Thrashers but was told things on the condition that I could not publicize them--which can be extremely frustrating. This particular rumor came with no strings attached and so I shared it. I suspect every aspiring journalist dreams of breaking a big story--probably even a young Bob McKenzie had such dreams. Every hard-working reporter wants to get the scoop--and I can't help but wonder whether it is more galling to be scooped by a blogger? Lots of people publish trade rumors that don't come true--do they all receive the "amateur hour" dig?

The rumor mill quickly shut down after McKenzie effectively brought the clamp down last night, but that may have been premature, according to BWA.

If you read McKenzie's statement very carefully he doesn't say "I can confirm that the rumor is BS" or "people close to LA say it is BS." Instead he wrote  "You know what I think of these rumors. Total BS"--which is something less than ironclad. Many people have assumed that McKenize (sic) contacted the Thrashers or Kings to disprove the rumor, but that is not his claim. His retort appears to be based on his opinion: "Some interest but fit isn't right at this point". Now perhaps I'm parsing this too closely and McKenzie really did talk to someone with the Kings or Thrashers but a literal reading of his comment does not indicate such is the case. At this point I'm not throwing in the towel on this particular rumor just yet, we will have to just wait and see what happens next.

They go on to make several more observations, stating that coverage of the Thrashers is 'often remarkably thin' and that it's not uncommon for him to know information, as a fan of the club and someone effectively in the working media (albeit not full time), before beat writers are privy to that same information.

Perhaps the most important observation, though, is that the Thrashers need to control the story from a public relations standpoint. In a market that is already struggling, trading away the face of the franchise could have seriously negative effects. Is it possible that McKenzie could've reached out to the Thrashers to confirm the rumor and the team quickly denounced it because they just didn't want the rumor to get out yet?

Here's BWA again:

The Thrashers have an organizational interest in controlling this story and how the news is presented to fans. Don Waddell is not obligated to keep fans abrest of every development. His obligation is to get the best possible deal for his franchise. If getting the best possible deal involves issuing "contradictory" or even misleading statements that is the way the game is played. Case in point the Calgary Flames swore that they were not trading Dion Phaneuf--only to turn around and trade Phaneuf to Toronto. Heck, maybe this rumor was intentionally planted by Don Waddell to try and scare a rival team into upping their bid for Kovalchuk. The NHL is a cut throat hyper-competitive business every GM is seeking to beat the other GM--so you never know.

It's a possibility that this is a dead rumor. It's also possible that a member of the mainstream media didn't want to get scooped by a blogger. We could also be given the run-around right now by a Thrashers organization with a serious interest in controlling the consumption of this story.

The fact of the matter is that we simply don't know, but there is one thing we do know. Bird Watchers Anonymous is a blog that has respect in the community and respect in the Thrashers organization, and for them to be lumped in with the crowd would be a gigantic mistake.

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