Everyone's favorite topic

Since this is an interesting topic, and it’s already dominating every post anyway, here’s what I know about the Ilya Kovalchuk situation. I’ve been holding off until I could actually produce something halfway helpful.

— Atlanta is, without question, now exploring options to trade Kovalchuk.

— Atlanta is talking to the Kings, but certainly not exclusively and not “around the clock.” The Kings certainly have high interest.

— So far, there has been one offer made by the Kings, and one offer/request made by the Thrashers of the Kings. No, I can’t disclose the players involved. Yes, I know that will anger some of you. No, I’m still not going to disclose them. That information was provided in confidence by only one source.

— At least so far, the Thrashers are holding firm that no teams will be allowed to negotiate an extension with Kovalchuk, making him a rental player. The Kings would look at Kovalchuk as a rental, but wouldn’t be willing to give up as much.

— The issue, for the Kings and other teams, is going to be the willingness to give up players currently on the NHL roster. Atlanta isn’t necessarily looking for a prospects-and-picks rebuild, a la Dean Lombardi. They have franchise viability issues, and they need to keep their NHL team looking reasonably strong.

— Teams that are closer to being Stanley Cup contenders — and within that, particularly teams that are staring down salary-cap issues — would be far more likely than the Kings to give up current NHL players for a Kovalchuk rental.

— The KHL is a looming, real possibility for Kovalchuk next season, which makes every GM nervous.

— There’s a “trade freeze” in place during the Olympic break, but GMs can still talk to each other. The freeze will be lifted after the Olympics, and the trade deadline is March 3.

That’s about all I can tell you at this point. I’ll stay on it as best as possible. I would urge you to follow legit reporters such as Pierre LeBrun of ESPN.com, Elliotte Friedman and the Hockey Night in Canada crew, the TSN guys, Hockey News, etc., and to stay away from the fiction writing. So feel free to use this thread to talk about Kovalchuk to your heart’s desire. Practice is at 1 p.m. Eastern time today…

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