Get Ready to See More of Ilya Kovalchuk (in a Devils Uniform)

Get Ready to See More of Ilya Kovalchuk (in a Devils Uniform)

If you've been tracking the trade rumors involving Ilya Kovalchuk, chances are you know that a few hours ago, a trade was finalized that would send the sniper to New Jersey for a package of Johnny Oduya, Niclas Bergfors, Patrice Cormier, and their 2010 first round pick. Former Devil Anssi Salmela will head to Jersey as well. 

So what's this mean to us? The first wave of impact for most Flyers fans will be that the Devils, who've routinely given our teams fits for more than a decade, just added a forward who is more talented than any they've ever had. 

They still have Marty Brodeur and a sound defensive system—a combination that has produced the lowest goals-against total in the NHL so far this season. And now, they also have the guy who has scored the second most goals in the league since the lockout, behind only Alex Ovechkin. Offense was an area in which the Devils were somewhat lacking, particularly lately. They just addressed that situation in as big a way possible, and they didn't give up all that much to rent or test-drive Kovy. 

I won't pretend to be an expert in the Devils' younger players and prospects, but here's their end of the deal as I understand it. Bergfors, a rookie whose stats we've seen alongside JVR's in the freshman scoring races, was off to a good start this season, but he's walled out somewhat recently. A pending RFA after this season, he's expected to develop into a nice player, and his name also indicates that he plays Peter Forsberg's foil in Bizarro World. Oduya was rewarded with a new contract last off-season but hasn't been too great in an injury-affected 09-10. He currently has just 4 points and a plus-2 rating after putting up 29 with a plus-21 last season. And the high prospect Cormier? Well, maybe he'll have a different kind of impact next season. Not long ago, Cormier was best known as Team Canada's captain in the World Juniors; now he's a popular hit on YouTube. The Devils' first-round pick will probably be toward the end of the round. 

Yes, sadly, this looks like a good trade for the Devils, even if they can't re-sign Kovalchuk after this season when he becomes a FA. Any speculation as to whether he'll be in Jersey beyond this year is probably premature. But, although the price will be high (he just turned down Thrashers' extension offers, one of which was said to average $10 million per season, representing the NHL's most lucrative annual salary), it's still possible. 

The trade was wisely primarily about this season for New Jersey though. Martin Brodeur has been their biggest meal ticket since the days of Chris Terreri's funky facemask, and they need to get in any legitimate Cup runs they can while they still have the best goalie in the history of the sport. 

And guess what! We'll get to see Devils+aBonaFideScorer in a home and home series next week—at the Wach on Monday and in Jerz on Wednesday. 

Although the Flyers were said to be an interested party in the Kovalchuk sweepstakes, it doesn't sound like it ever go too far. This shouldn't come as much of a surprise given the cap constraints the team has been up against for a few seasons, the contract Kovy has now, and the massive numbers he wants in the future. But Kevin Allen, the USA Today writer who broke this huge trade story, says that the Flyers were never willing to give up Jeff Carter or James vanRiemsdyk. 

Carter is under contract, and at a relatively manageable number. His stats this season haven't held up to the standard he set last season, when he actually scored more goals than Kovalchuk (by a margin of three goals, while having played three more games). However, that output has been at least the norm for Kovy, who already has 31 goals this season, versus the exception for Carter. But the bigger point here is that the Flyers were nothing more than a storyline in all of this, which was true of a handful of teams. Maybe they helped spike the price for the Devils, but it doesn't appear to have been by much. 

The biggest point is that the Devils are a more dangerous threat than they were yesterday, and just in time for two matchups with the Flyers. This was the ah-shit scenario for Flyers fans, as well as the other Eastern Conference contenders. You really would have liked the weather in LA, Ilya. Please be sure to visit California before you sign your next contract.   

Best of NBA: Dwyane Wade hits dagger 3-pointer in Bulls debut

Best of NBA: Dwyane Wade hits dagger 3-pointer in Bulls debut

CHICAGO -- Dwyane Wade scored 22 points in a triumphant Chicago debut, Jimmy Butler had 24 and the Bulls won their season opener, beating the Boston Celtics 105-99 on Thursday night.

Wade nailed a 3 from the corner in the final minute to make it a five-point game. Taj Gibson added 18 points and 10 rebounds, and the new-look Bulls got off to a winning start after missing the playoffs last season for the first time since 2008.

Isaiah Thomas led Boston with 25 points. Avery Bradley had 16, and Jae Crowder 14 points, but the Celtics came up short after opening with a win over Brooklyn the previous night.

The Bulls remade their roster in the offseason, jettisoning one hometown superstar and welcoming another when they traded Derrick Rose to New York and signed Wade to a two-year deal worth about $47 million in a move that stunned Miami.

The three-time NBA champion and 12-time All-Star is off to a good start with the Bulls after 13 seasons with the Heat.

Wade hit 4 of 6 3-pointers in this game after making just seven all of last season (see full recap).

New-look Hawks roll past Wizards
ATLANTA -- Dwight Howard dominated the boards in his Atlanta debut, Paul Millsap scored 28 points and Tim Hardaway Jr. ignited the new-look Hawks to a 114-99 victory over the Washington Wizards in their season opener Thursday night.

Howard grabbed 19 rebounds to go along with 11 points, just what the Hawks expected from their new center, and it certainly wasn't unusual for three-time All-Star Millsap to lead the way in scoring.

But Hardaway's performance was totally unexpected given the way he struggled in his first season with the Hawks, when he was largely confined to the bench and even forced to spend time in the D-League.

He scored 21 points, matching his high in an Atlanta uniform, and broke open a close game with back-to-back 3-pointers in the fourth. The Hawks, who led only 81-80 heading to the final period, outscored the Wizards 33-19 over the final 12 minutes (see full recap).

Best of NHL: Canadiens rally past Lightning for 6th straight win

Best of NHL: Canadiens rally past Lightning for 6th straight win

MONTREAL -- Max Pacioretty scored the tiebreaking goal in Montreal's three-goal third period as the Canadiens beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 3-1 Thursday night for their sixth straight win.

Alex Galchenyuk and Torrey Mitchell also scored to help Montreal improve to 7-0-1. Carey Price made 29 saves to win for the fourth time in four starts this season.

Alex Killorn scored the lone goal for the Lightning, who lost against an Eastern-Conference opponent for the first time this season. Ben Bishop stopped 23 shots.

With the scored tied 1-1, Pacioretty got the go-ahead goal at 10:23 by beating Bishop glove-side. Blown coverage by the Lightning left the Canadiens' captain all alone on the edge of the face-off circle, and Bishop couldn't see the shot with Andrew Shaw posted firmly in front of goal.

Montreal remains the only NHL team still undefeated in regulation (see full recap).

Crosby's late goal gives Penguins win over Islanders
PITTSBURGH -- Sidney Crosby scored the tiebreaking goal late in the third period to lead the Pittsburgh Penguins to a 4-2 victory over the New York Islanders on Thursday night.

Patric Hornqvist, Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel also scored -- each getting his third of the season -- to help the Penguins win for the third time in four games and improve to 5-0-1 at home.

Crosby, playing for the second straight game after missing the first six with a concussion, scored with 2:25 left as he caught a pass from Scott Wilson at the top of the crease and quickly turned to his forehand to put the puck behind Islanders goalie Jaroslav Halak.

Kessel added a power-play goal to cap the scoring 32 seconds later.

Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 35 shots while starting for the eighth straight game.

Travis Hamonic and Shane Prince scored for the Islanders, and Halak finished with 31 saves (see full recap).

Streaking Red Wings win marathon shootout vs. Blues
ST. LOUIS -- Henrik Zetterberg scored in the eighth round of a shootout to give the Detroit Red Wings a 2-1 victory over the St. Louis Blues on Thursday night.

Zetterberg's goal gave the Red Wings a six-game winning streak.

In the shootout, St. Louis' first shooter, Alexander Steen, scored but then Vladimir Tarasenko, Kevin Shattenkirk, David Perron, Nail Yakupoc, Robby Fabbri, Patrick Burgland and Dmitrjij Jaskin all came up short.

Gustav Nyquist scored on Detroit's second attempt but Frans Nielsen, Dylan Larkin, Andreas Athanasiou, Tomas Tatar, Riley Sheehan and Darren Helm all missed.

St. Louis had the better chances in overtime. Center Jaden Schwartz missed a wide-open net early in the extra session. Jori Lehtera was stopped on a breakaway midway through the period by Detroit goalie Petr Mrazek (see full recap).