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Flyers Talking Kovalchuk, But Deal Still Seems Far-Fetched

Fine, Paul. We'll indulge. Apparently the Flyers have had continuing discussions with Atlanta general manager Don Waddell about a potential trade for superstar and soon-to-be-free agent Ilya Kovalchuk.


One NHL executive said that the Flyers have had intermittent talks with Atlanta over Kovalchuk.

Atlanta General manager Don Waddell met with Holmgren at last week’s game and discussed matters. Waddell scouted the Flyers himself on Saturday during the Isles game but did not meet with Holmgren, the source said.

"Find a one winger, one defenseman that adds up to what Kovalchuk makes and the Flyers could do this deal," the source said.

The Flyers think Kovalchuk will want between $9 and $9.5 million on a re-signing and because of that salary, they couldn’t afford Kovalchuk long-term.

Translate that: the Flyers are looking to trade two major pieces for a rental player. A superstar rental player, but still, a rental player. But okay, since Homer seems serious, let's take a walk on the wild side. You know, just for fun.

The Flyers get Ilya Kovalchuk, shoring up the seriously underachieving top guns on the offense. The move frees up a lot of cap space this off-season when Kovalchuk inevitably walks away (or he's traded for picks at the draft in June) because the Flyers can't afford to re-sign him.

As teased in the CSN article, the Flyers will have to trade away about $6.389 million in salary just to afford Kovalchuk for the remainder of the season. Who would have to go? Any combination of Danny Briere, Mike Richards, Scott Hartnell, Jeff Carter and Simon Gagne.

Briere, Gagne and Hartnell have no-trade or no-movement clauses, and Holmgren is on record multiple times saying that Carter unequivocally will not be traded. Richards is staying and we all know that, meaning someone would have to agree to the trade.

If you could get Gagne to waive his no-trade clause, you could probably get the deal done by adding a defenseman. Braydon Coburn, who has emerged as the proverbial scapegoat of the Philadelphia defense this season, has a cap hit of $1.3 million. Couple that with Gagne's cap hit $5.25 million and voila, perfect match. How convenient.

If you'll recall correctly, it was considered an absolute fleecing when highly-touted youngster Coburn was ripped away from Waddell and the Thrashers for none other than Alexei freakin' Zhitnik back in 2007. Waddell would probably itch at the chance to correct that embarrassing mistake, even if it means making another one by overlooking Coburn's recent developmental transgressions.

So would Gagne and Coburn be enough to get the deal done? Probably. The Flyers might have to throw in another mid-level prospect like David Laliberte of Jared Ross, but Coburn's status as a restricted free agent would be a nice bargaining chip and would likely keep the Thrashers from asking for a draft pick, which the Flyers don't have to give up anyway.

Of course, the sheer thought of trading away Gagne -- a guy who has been in Philadelphia his entire career, is a perennial fan favorite in this town and is just a genuine class act -- tugs at the heart strings of Flyers fans. But all emotional investments in Gagne aside, it's hard to argue against that package for Kovalchuk, even if he's just a rental player. The trade wouldn't take much away from the Flyers offense at present and it would add an elite scorer just in time for the stretch run and the postseason.

But again, there's really not much to get excited, depressed, or emotional in any way about. The chances of Gagne waiving his no-trade clause to go to Atlanta are about as likely as NBC offering Conan O'Brien the spot as host of The Tonight Show again. The logistics of this trade may be  possible, yes, but the stars would truly have to align for Ilya Kovalchuk to become a Philadelphia Flyer.