Another big NHL trade is hard to imagine


There aren’t many big names left to consider, and the league is imposing an Olympic trade freeze starting Friday and ending Feb. 28. The trading deadline is March 3.

There’s a lot of Ilya Kovalchuk gear on sale at the Thrashers’ team store, so Devils General Manager Lou Lamoriello won’t be the only one getting a bargain after the left wing was traded from Atlanta to New Jersey last week.

The Devils had the depth to give away promising kids like Niclas Bergfors and Patrice Cormier and a first-round draft pick for Kovalchuk, who can walk away as a free agent July 1. The Kings wouldn’t surrender any two of Dustin Brown, Jack Johnson and Wayne Simmonds, so Thrashers GM Don Waddell took the best deal available.

Waddell might not be around by the time Cormier and the player the Thrashers take with that first-round pick make it to the NHL, but it was clear Kovalchuk wouldn’t return to Atlanta and Waddell had to get the best deal he could.

With Kovalchuk in Newark and Dion Phaneuf and Jean-Sebastien Giguere in Toronto, there aren’t many big names left on the trade block. The NHL will impose an Olympic trade freeze starting Friday and ending Feb. 28, and the trading deadline is March 3.

Too many teams are still too close to a playoff spot for more than a few to be in full selling mode. But Carolina is a seller, having sent defenseman Niclas Wallin and a fifth-round draft pick to San Jose for a second-round pick.

The Hurricanes thought they had a deal to send Ray Whitney to the Kings, but the 37-year-old winger demanded a three-year extension before he’d waive his no-trade clause and the Kings wisely refused. The Kings might seek a fifth or sixth defenseman, but they’re likely to wait until July 1 to pursue a scoring winger.

Columbus is expected to move free-agent-to-be left wing Raffi Torres; the Maple Leafs might trade Alexei Ponikarovsky, a respectable left wing who has 19 goals with a bad team and can be a free agent July 1; and Edmonton could move veteran forward Ethan Moreau, who has one year left at $2 million.,0,6008491.column

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