Kovalchuk not frustrated by ongoing contract talks

Thrashers star Ilya Kovalchuk told the AJC on Wednesday that he is not frustrated by ongoing contract negotiations. Kovalchuk, who will become an unrestricted free agent after the season, also said he remains confident a deal will get done.

“No, not really,” Kovalchuk said when asked if he was frustrated with the length of time that has elapsed. “I just try to focus on my game and my goal to make the playoffs. I don’t care about the contract situation.

"Everybody goes through it. It’s not frustrating at all. … It’s not easy to sign a deal. Whatever it takes, we’ll take our time.”

Negotiations between the Thrashers and Kovalchuk, the franchise’s all-time leader in games, points, goals and assists, have been ongoing for much of the season. In October, Kovalchuk gave his agent the go-ahead to work on a new deal, satisfied with the team’s offseason acquisitions and its early-season performance.

However, a contract agreement has not been reached. The NHL will take a two-week hiatus for the Winter Olympics in February, and the league’s trade deadline is March 3.

“Yes, I feel very confident,” Kovalchuk said. “Like I said, I like everything that’s been done over time. It’s not an easy thing to sign a long-term deal, and if it has to take until the last second, that’s what it takes. You never know.”

Thrashers general manager Don Waddell told the AJC on Monday that his first choice still is to sign Kovalchuk, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2001 draft. Waddell did acknowledge that a trade was a possibility for the organization should contract talks reach an impasse.

Waddell said that both sides have a contract proposal on the table.

“We are at a difference of what the player should be paid,” Waddell said.

Schubert penalty

Defenseman Christoph Schubert was given a game misconduct for a boarding penalty 5:01 into the first period of Tuesday's win over Ottawa.

"It was a tough call," Schubert said. "The puck was right there. I know it looks bad, but there was no intention to hurt or be a reckless player. It's the kind of hit that happens every game. Unfortunately [Jonathan Cheechoo] hit his head on the glass. I didn't mean to hurt anyone."

Injury update

*Center Nik Antropov participated in a full practice Wednesday and expects to play Thursday against Buffalo. Antropov has missed the past four games with a hip injury.

“I think I will be ready to go,” Antropov said. " I did a full practice [Wednesday]. It feels OK, so we’ll see what’s going to happen tomorrow.”

Thrashers coach John Anderson indicated that Antropov most likely will play.

*Center Todd White missed practice Wednesday and was scheduled to have his right knee examined. White missed most of the first period Tuesday after he suffered the injury. He returned for the second period and scored a goal two minutes into the period.