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The Atlanta Thrashers finally have their captain.

After 43 games without a player wearing the C and an ugly 14-24-5 record, Thrashers general manager Don Waddell appointed 25-year-old Russian star Ilya Kovalchuk as the seventh captain in franchise history at a team function in Atlanta last night.

In his seventh NHL season, Kovalchuk was drafted by the Thrashers first overall in 2001 and has 270 goals and 509 points in 509 career NHL games. He succeeds Bobby Holik, who signed as a free agent with the New Jersey Devils last summer, as the captain.

Kovalchuk leads the Thrashers in scoring this season with 43 points. He can become an unrestricted free agent after next season and has been the subject of several trade rumours.

The captaincy was given out at the team's annual Casino Night event, and Waddell called Kovalchuk to centre stage during introductions for a special announcement.

"Have I been traded?" Kovalchuk asked.