As many folks have pointed out, it's now been one year since the Atlanta Thrashers presented Ilya Kovalchuk to the New Jersey Devils and said, "Here you go, comrades; now give us Niclas Bergfors, Johnny Oduya, and Patrice Cormier."
What effect, if any, has this trade had on the teams involved?
Let's take stock:
- The New Jersey Devils are terrible. It remains to be seen if this is just a one-year hiccup or their fate for all eternity. They have been winning lately.
- Ilya Kovalchuk is having the worst season of his career. There are innocent souls who think that Ilya's lack of scoring is a permanent condition, that Kovalchuk will Kovalsuck forever, etc. We're somewhat skeptical about this.
- The Atlanta Thrashers are in more or less the same position they were last year. If you want to get pedantic about it, they have one more point than they did this time last year, and are one position higher. It's not hard to see what this means.
- Niclas Bergfors, despite being a decent hockey player, is unloved by both the Atlanta coaching staff and not a few Thrashers fans, who routinely suggest we trade him plus Zach Bogosian plus up-and-comer Freddy Modin for...who, exactly? Ales Hemsky? Devin Setoguchi?
IN CONCLUSION: During his time in Atlanta, many fans deplored Kovalchuk's lack of defensive effort. It could, on occasion, cause problems. But if you want to see what happens when Kovalchuk tries to Be Responsible and Play Defense and other boring things, instead of doing what he's actually good at (being an explosive goal-scoring beast-and-a-half and leaving the defense to someone else), look no further than this year's New Jersey Devils. Paradoxically enough, they're like the Kovalchuk-era Thrashers, minus Kovalchuk.
The Thrashers, on the other hand, are like last year's Chicago Blackhawks, if the Chicago Blackhawks relied exclusively on Dustin Byfuglien and Andrew Ladd.
Anyway, a song for the occasion: