Could Ilya really tie the room together? Make an offer.

I don't fan the flames of idle trade speculation here: I know it's fun (and lucrative, for some hucksters), but I figure if I set the tone of trade-mongering, it will encourage too much "That Snow should trade Coameau and Suttton 4 Kavolchuk & Bogozhun, bleeaaargh!" juvenilia to come out of the woodwork. I'd prefer to avoid that. That's not to say reasonable trade discussions are off-limits -- rather, when it comes up here, I prefer it be grounded in some sort of reality that exists without the aid of controlled substances.

With that in mind, obviously the Islanders will not and cannot make a trade for Ilya Kovalchuk. It's simply not happening, and it probably shouldn't under any conditions conforming to the laws of physics in the known universe (Short list of reasons: This franchise's build cycle, Ilya's market price, his UFA status, Isles payroll, arena/location uncertainty, Ilya's unfamiliarity with his own zone, and Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle ...)

But Thrashers fans, represented on SBN by Birdwatchers Anonymous, are facing the uncomfortable prospect of their franchise forward hitting the trade market if contract negotiations don't wrap up. BWA leader The Falconer is going to compile "offers" and post them later this week. I'm going to submit one for the Islanders by Wednesday night. I want your help.

In a make-believe world where you're GM and Charles Wang told you to make a play for Kovalchuk, what offer would you make? Before making your offer/argument/motion to dismiss, please follow the conditions and caveats after the jump.

Ground Rules:

  • You cannot negotiate with Kovalchuk on an extension before acquiring him. However, since it's such a monumental stretch to pretend the Islanders are in play under any circumstances, if that condition is a non-starter, feel free to explain. (e.g. "Look, I won't give you dirt for him without an extension, but with an extension I'll put real assets on the table.")
  • If you get him, you risk losing him this summer. If you insist on negotiating an extension, you risk being left out.
  • You cannot just dump unwanted veterans on Atlanta. They'll want a roster player(s) plus real prospect(s), and perhaps a conditional 1st-rounder if you re-sign him. No goalies.
  • Kovalchuk's cap hit, which doesn't matter to us for this year, is $6.389 million. If you're planning on re-signing him, rumor is he's asking for near-max level salary, like in $10 million country.
  • While this is make-believe, all of the other restrictive conditions around this franchise still apply.

Again, I know this is all toying in fantasy land. But pretend you have orders from ownership to at least try. Without screwing up what you've built, without screwing up the future, what is the maximum you're willing to do to add a star who might even help you make the playoffs, excite fans and upgrade your core?

Beyond that point, you go back and tell Wang, "Sorry Charlie, it's just not worth it." Keep in mind -- unless you disagree -- you're bidding for a dynamic scorer in his prime, but hardly an Ovechkin or Crosby here.

Start the bidding. Gamble only what you are prepared to lose.

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