Agree with a lot of stuff that's been said about his value (high quality forward, young gifted D, and a first rounder), and I think the rumors swirling around him, making the VERY large stretch assumption that they're true, probably mean he's told Waddell he has no intention of resigning and they should consider dealing him while they can get top return. He's played out his whole career in Atlanta, it's not too hard to imagine him having the courtesy to give them the heads up.
That said, signing him would be as big or bigger a problem than would be signing Hossa, given that Kovalchuk is, next to AO, the most gifted goal-scorer in the league right now. And, unlike Hossa, Kovalchuk can be counted upon to be THE man. I still think a deal similar to what Hossa was going to be offered would get signed but in the end a considerable chunk of salary would have to be moved, which in turn would screw with the balance. Honestly, I don't see this deal happening. Love Kovalchuk though.
I am interested to see what happens when Gonchar's 5 million is off the books. I know Letang and Gogo will need raises but I doubt that combined they'll be making that considering they're both clearly in the development stage. Perhaps some cap room for a very good winger for a few years?