Ok, I've seen comments from Shooter and Morty about this below two threads and thought that it deserved to be its own topic. Besides, some glitch with my network at work won't let me post comments most of the time.
So the assertion from a lot of people lately has been "the Thrashers are better off without Kovy."
1) Kovy has only scored 3 goals with the Devils.
2) Bergfors has scored 6 goals, including 2 game winners, for the Thrashers.
3) The Thrashers can gel more as "A TEAM" now.
Big Shooter and Morty have countered those points.
1) Kovy is not the leader who is relied upon to score goals for New Jersey.
2) Bergfors is a rookie who is excited to be here and will level off.
3) After a brief surge, the Thrashers are now mired in a 3 game skid and cannot find any offense.
So are the Thrashers a better team without Kovalchuk? Are the Devils a better team with Kovalchuk?
1) The Devils have 4 players other than Ilya Kovalchuk with 15 or more goals (Langenbrunner, Parise, Zajac, and Rolston). The Atlanta Thrashers have 4 players with more than 15 goals (Fins, Bergie, Pevs, and Antro) plus two more at 14 (MacArthur and Kane). So the Devils traded to get Kovy's 34 goals-to-date versus Bergfors' 19 goals-to-date. Yes, it's true that the Devils have one other 30 goal scorer on their roster, it's obvious that Kovalchuk WAS acquired in order to light the lamp. He's done that 3 times so far, with one of them being a game winner. The fact that Bergie has gone on a tear and scored six in the same time period doesn't mean a whole lot. You need a bigger sampling to make judgments.
2) Yes, Bergie will certainly taper off his nearly goal-per-game pace. However, he has shown us that he has tremendous potential. With Bergfors, Little, Kane, Bogosian, Vishnevskiy, Morin, Klinberg, Macachek, Kulda, and Leville, this team looks a lot like the LA Kings of three years ago. That's a pretty favorable comparison.
3) The Thrashers have crashed back to earth after the pre-and post-Olympic mini-surge. Any hope for the playoffs is also plummeting through the atmosphere like a meteor. Part of that is the fact that a team of 20 goal scorers either needs one 40 goal scorer or an 80 assist guy who can make thing happen if they want to win the majority of their games. Another reason is that while Moose is good, he's not what you want as your Number One goalie. Ondrej has been disgustingly sub-par in the past several starts, so he can't be relied upon in this stretch run.
I think that this team has a very solid foundation of youth and role players. In order to be a playoff team next year, management has to spend like crazy on two of a) a legit 40-50 goal scorer (I hear NJ has one who will be a UFA in July), b) a set-up wizard, or c) a REAL number one goaltender (Turco or Nabokov, or in a pinch, Nittymaki). Either a) or b) will increase goals for by a margin of 30 or 40, and c) will reduce goals against by a margin of about 50. Do those two things together and you're looking at a secure post-season berth and a nervous first-round opponent.
Oh yeah, and hire the amateur goalie scout who worked for either Anaheim or San Jose in the 90's.