Thrashers Trying to Keep Kovalchuk in NHL?

Defenseman Mark Popovic is in Thrasher training camp, trying to earn a contract. He spent last season playing in the KHL and he wasn’t very impressed by the quality of play there.

Popovic played for Atlanta before deciding to go to Russia, so he has a connection to the team, but part of me wonders if someone in the Thrashers organization wanted a KHL player around to constantly remind Ilya Kovalchuk that the KHL game isn’t comparable to the NHL one. I wonder if the thinking is that the Thrashers don’t want to compete against the NHL and KHL in terms of re-signing Kovalchuk next season.

Not to disparage Popovic’s game, of course…

Over in Philadelphia, Simon Gagne seems to have gotten through his first game of the season without injury. It’s going to be a long season for Gagne if he’s day-to-day over 82 games. Hopefully, for the Flyers and for Gagne, his hip/groin issue won’t become an issue this season. Gagne tweaked groin during Team Canada camp this summer, and you hate to see a talented player like Gagne miss regular-season games because of a pre-season game injury.