Kovalchuk...

Tyler's excitement about the Kovalchuk deal notwithstanding, New Jersey gave up a lot in this deal. The Devils do win the deal in 2009-10 - a few months of Kovalchuk, including the playoffs, is worth more than Johnny Oduya and Nicklas Bergfors will contribute this season. As far as I can tell from sports books that haven't been updated overnight, the Devils jumped from 12-1 odds to win the Stanley Cup to 6-1, which is a big improvement, but still behind Chicago, Pittsburgh, San Jose and Washington.

There should be no question that the Devils lose this deal in the future. Oduya is signed at market value, but Bergfors is an RFA at the end of the season and will get signed at a large discount. I suppose Cormier was going to be a headache in New Jersey, but the inclusion of a first-round pick on top of that seals the deal for Atlanta. The Thrashers probably pick up two wins for free in 2010-11 as a result of this deal, with more wins in the years beyond that.

I suppose it would make a lot of sense if Kovalchuk was the best player in the league, but the stats don't really support that:

Kovalchuk 09-10 @ 5v5

Quality of Competiton: 10th on his team
Corsi Relative to Teammates: -3.6 shots per 60
Offensive Zone Faceoffs: 49.4%

Kovalchuk 08-09 @ 5v5

Quality of Competiton: 11th on his team
Corsi Relative to Teammates: +1.4 shots per 60
Offensive Zone Faceoffs: 45.0% (Atlanta had a horrendous number of D-zone faceoffs last year, so this is actually sheltered.)

Kovalchuk 07-08 @ 5v5

Quality of Competiton: 11th on his team
Corsi Relative to Teammates: -1.0 shots per 60
Offensive Zone Faceoffs: 49.1%

Bottom line: Kovalchuk has not played good two-way hockey. He starts out in the opponent's end a lot against relatively weak competition, generates a lot of offensive opportunities as a result, but gives it all back at the other end of the ice. He is a talented shooter, and brings a lot of value to the power-play, but he isn't Henrik Zetterberg. A lot of the gain for New Jersey hinges on using Kovalchuk more appropriately than in Atlanta, and Jacques Lemaire is the guy to pull off such a miracle - but it certainly seems like this deal has a lot of downside for the Devils.

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