Atlanta's course could be determined by star forward 

September, 29, 2009

After speaking with Ilya Kovalchuk's agent, Jay Grossman, I get the impression that the Atlanta Thrashers will have to show some improvement during the first half of the season if they want to keep their superstar sniper -- who can be an unrestricted free agent on July 1 -- in the fold long-term.

Grossman says his client has many reasons to stay in Atlanta. And Grossman cites his own good working relationship with GM Don Waddell and club ownership. But the longtime agent admitted his client likely would reconsider his position if he continues to feel a professional frustration (e.g., playing on a perennial losing club).

To read E.J. Hradek's examination of the situation in Atlanta and see why the Blue Jackets turned to the Flames to ignite Columbus' abysmal power play, you must be an Insider. Insider

E.J. Hradek

Senior Writer, ESPN The Magazine
E.J. Hradek is a senior writer at ESPN The Magazine, joining the staff prior to its launch in 1998. He began covering hockey as a writer/editor for Hockey Illustrated in 1989.