The Los Angeles Kings are among a number of teams seriously interested in acquiring superstar Ilya Kovalchuk from the declining Atlanta Thrashers.
Contract negotiations between the Thrashers and Kovalchuk's agent, Jay Grossman, have not gone as well as Atlanta would have liked and GM Don Waddell has started putting out feelers.
TFP has learned the Kings are extremely interested in acquiring Kovalchuk, and while they aren't alone, they do have enough young assets to ship the other way.
One well placed source told TFP last night Kings GM Dean Lombardi is traveling to Atlanta to not only scout the team but presumably speak with Waddell face-to-face.
It's too early to speculate on what the Thrashers may want in return, though it is widely believed that Waddell will not grant a team permission to negotiate a long-term contract with Kovalchuk prior to completing a trade.
Kovalchuk, 26, is in the final year of his current contract and can become an unrestricted free agent July 1. While he loves playing and living in Atlanta, two separate sources told TFP last month that he is concerned with the ongoing speculation that the Thrashers franchise could be in jeopardy of moving in the coming years.
According to several published reports, the Boston Bruins, Chicago Blackhawks and Philadelphia Flyers are also considered top contenders for Kovalchuk.
[ From the Editor ]
The Kings might be the perfect trading partner for Atlanta. They have the young rising talent Atlanta would want, they have the cap space, and they have a marketable situation to possibly lure Kovalchuk into staying. If Lombardi's indeed in Atlanta, or going there, that shows exactly how interested the Kings truly are. It's still way too early to forecast a trade, as those talks won't really get underway until this coming week, but the Kings definitely won't be the only team in the running. -- David Pagnotta
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