NHL

Thrashers trade Kovalchuk to Devils

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NEWARK, N.J. (AP)

Ilya Kovalchuk has been traded to the New Jersey Devils.

The Atlanta Thrashers sent Kovalchuk and defenseman Anssi Salmela to the Devils on Thursday night for right winger Niclas Bergfors, defenseman Johnny Oduya, prospect Patrice Cormier and a 2010 first-round pick.

The teams also swapped second-round picks this year.

The 26-year-old Kovalchuk, set to become an unrestricted free agent July 1, turned down the Thrashers' 12-year, $101 million extension offer.

Since the Thrashers drafted Kovalchuk No. 1 overall in 2001, the Russian Olympian leads the NHL with 328 goals, but Atlanta has made just one playoff appearance and has never won a postseason game.

Kovalchuk had 31 goals and 27 assists in 49 games this season for the Thrashers. He missed six games because of a broken bone in his foot.

The 28-year-old Oduya has two goals and two assists in 40 games this season. He's set to play for Sweden in Olympics.

Bergfors, a 22-year-old Swede, is fifth among NHL rookies with 27 points (13 goals, 14 assists). He was drafted 23rd overall in 2005.

The 19-year-old Cormier had 11 goals and 20 assists in 31 games this season with Rimouski and Rouyn-Noranda of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League before he was suspended for the rest of season because of a hit on an opposing player. He captained Canada in the 2010 World Junior Championship.

Salmela, 25, had a goal and four assists in 29 games this season for Atlanta. The Finn was acquired by the Thrashers from the Devils in exchange for defenseman Niclas Havelid and forward Myles Stoesz on March 2, 2009.

Tagged: Devils, Jets, Niclas Havelid, Ilya Kovalchuk, Johnny Oduya, Niclas Bergfors, Anssi Salmela

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