Thursday, February 4, 2010

The Eastern Conference just got a whole lot tougher: Devils acquire Ilya Kovalchuk

Due to budget constraints and not having any draft picks to deal, the Flyers were never really in the running for Ilya Kovalchuk. Despite all the rumors you heard over the last few days, it simply wasn't feasible for the Flyers to pick up the young sniper who was placed on the trading block by the Atlanta Thrashers. Unless the Flyers found a way to unload Danny Briere and/or Scott Hartnell, two players with no trade clauses, the Flyers simply didn't have enough room under the cap to get Kovalchuk, let alone sign him to a long-term deal.

With the Flyers out of the picture, Flyers fans were left to hope Kovalchuk wouldn't get traded to a rival. Unfortunately, that's exactly what happened: Ilya Kovalchuk has been traded to the Atlantic Division leader, the Devils. As of this writing, details as to who the Devils will be giving up aren't known, but it's likely that it took a solid young NHL player, a top prospect and a 1st round draft pick.

The move immediately makes the Devils one of the favorites, if not the favorite to win the Eastern Conference. While the Devils still have the personality of a grind-it-out team and Kovalchuk isn't known for his play in the defensive end, adding a top goal scorer to a team that has issues putting the puck in the net will surely help a Devils squad that is already one of the best in the East.

Don't be angry that the Flyers couldn't find a way to get Kovalchuk. Paul Holmgren's hands were tied with all of the contracts he has given out and the lack of a first round pick next year. Okay, so maybe you can be a little angry about that, Homer is the one who created this salary cap mess.

The reality is, Ilya Kovalchuk will be skating for a Devils team that looks poised to be a Cup contender for several years while the Flyers have hamstrung themselves from acquiring a truly elite impact player at this time.

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