Ilya Kovalchuk left the National Hockey League to play for CSKA in the Kontinental Hockey League after the 2013 season, leaving New Jersey with little cap space and the last pick in the 2014 draft as a penalty for overpaying Kovalchuk. With Kovalchuk hinting at a return to the NHL, I came up with some scenarios of what would’ve happened had Atlanta not traded him.
Scenario 1: Kovalchuk signs with another team at the end of the season and leaves Atlanta with nothing.
If scenario one were a go, that would leave Winnipeg with huge masses of money for signing free agents. New Jersey would most likely not be his destination and that would prevent a Stanley Cup appearance from the Devils. This would also mean that Chicago might not have been successful because they wouldn’t have had Oduya. Another effect would be Winnipeg’s success in the draft each year because of the scarcity of picks that they would’ve owned.
Scenario 2: Kovalchuk re-signs with Atlanta and makes the switch to play for Winnipeg.
Winnipeg would likely make the playoffs and not get Petan, Comrie, Ehlers, Morrissey, etc. However, they would be Cup contenders now and for a long time. New Jersey would miss the playoffs and possibly lead to Brodeur’s early retirement.
Scenario 3: Kovalchuk is traded to a different team
If Ilya Kovalchuk didn’t wear the New Jersey sweater, where would he have gone? Most likely to a team that has a chance at hoisting the cup. If he weren’t dealt to New Jersey in 2010, he would probably prevent Adam Henrique’s Calder Trophy nomination and the Prince of Whales to be in the grasp of New Jersey. Atlanta could’ve received better picks or players. This scenario is basically a win-win situation for Kovalchuk and Atlanta.
Scenario 4: Ilya Kovalchuk stays with Atlanta for the rest of the season but leaves for Russia at the end.
This would be good. It depends how you look at it. Atlanta/Winnipeg could’ve dropped into the number 1 pick name slot and selected Taylor Hall or Tyler Seguin. But if you look at it differently, you might think that Winnipeg would end up last continuously.
Scenario 5: Kovalchuk stays in Atlanta signs with New Jersey at the end of the season
This would make New Jersey an absolute powerhouse. They definitely would’ve defeated Los Angeles in 2012. They would not be forced to rebuild. Lou Lamioriello was also forced to hire Ray Shero. Also with this scenario played out, Kovalchuk would probably not leave New Jersey and Winnipeg would have no success in the future or present.
So those were five scenarios of Ilya Kovalchuk’s departure from Atlanta. These are based off of statistical habits and facts.