Boris back, Anssi out

The Thrashers sure timed this one right. Anssi Salmela, who took a blow to the chin in Wednesday night’s victory over Buffalo, won’t be making the trip to Florida and Washington this weekend and will be evaluated again next week. Salmela didn’t practice with the team on Thursday, but he told me he’s feeling better. Stepping in to replace him on defense will be Boris Valabik, who is returning from a dislocated shoulder. Valabik got hurt at Pittsburgh March 17. He and Thrashers coach John Anderson both said he could have played Wednesday night. Valabik said he’s glad he didn’t; having one more practice under his belt today made a huge difference, and he expects to be more effective Friday night than he would have been against the Sabres.

This is the Thrashers’ final road trip. They can really help themselves if they beat the Panthers, who are a point behind the Canadiens in the race for the last Eastern Conference playoff spot. (The Canadiens also have a game in hand.) Remember, the Mathieu Schneider trade included a conditional draft choice based on how Montreal fares in the postseason. If Montreal doesn’t get to the postseason, the Thrashers will have to give away a third-round pick in June. If the Canadiens win a playoff series, it becomes a fourth-round pick. If they win two series, it becomes a fifth-round pick.

54 comments Add your comment

erock

April 2nd, 2009
1:02 pm

What did the Thrashers get in the trade ?

mknobler

April 2nd, 2009
1:28 pm

The Thrashers got a second-round pick this year and a third-round pick next year. So they come out at least a second-round pick ahead, possibly more.

Tim

April 2nd, 2009
1:32 pm

Erock, Thrashers got Anahem 2nd pick 2009 and Montreal 3rd Pick in 2010 in that trade.

GaVaHokie

April 2nd, 2009
1:38 pm

I’d like to see Montreal and Florida in the playoffs with the Rangers falling out.

GaVaHokie

April 2nd, 2009
1:39 pm

Check out the rest of the Rangers schedule… very possible they don’t make it.

http://tsn.ca/nhl/teams/schedule/?date=4/2/2009&hubname=nhl-rangers

FormerIslesFan

April 2nd, 2009
2:01 pm

GVH: My family and I were talking about who we were going to be rooting for in the playoffs this year. My older tax deduction (thank you, Rawhide), asked me who I was going to root for out of the East, and before I could answer, Lilibeter piped in and said, “Whoever is plahying the Rangers.”

The Rangers not even making it would be even sweeter music to my ears.

exelby's donkey punch

April 2nd, 2009
2:11 pm

Tough break for Salmela. Oyster got him with the friendly fire.

Valabik’s penalties would have been noted by the refs last night. We were called for paying back the Sabres, I’m glad big boris waited an extra game, I just think he would have had a target on him last night by the refs, even though we earned all of our penalties, haha. It was nice to see the Thrashers bully a team and then beat them. Couldn’t have happened to a more cheap-shotting type of team than the Sabres. Start working on your golf swings after your faces heal, Buffalo.

exSTH

April 2nd, 2009
3:05 pm

Give the Moose a few games in a row to get in the groove and he’s back to the guy we all grew to love!

RobD

April 2nd, 2009
4:18 pm

Mike, loved the quote from Kovy about Anderson in your article about the game. I know he’s got a lot to think about, being one of the best players in the league and going into unrestricted free agency after next year, and who knows what he’ll do when it comes to re-signing or not. However, when he’s asked about what he wants he always says he wants to win, and it’s hard to see a public expression of confidence in Anderson as a winner as anything other than positive signal.

kracker

April 2nd, 2009
4:23 pm

Well, geee…I guess I will have to root for Habs to win one series!

MB

April 2nd, 2009
4:32 pm

edp, it seems to me like Boris always has a target on his back. He gets called for a lot of ticky-tack stuff just because of his size.

As for the Sabres, it sure seemed like they were going to the ice kinda easy last night. I kept expecting to see the name “Louganis” on the back of a couple of jerseys.

Sean Grace

April 2nd, 2009
9:09 pm

Mike,

Nice job as usual. Boris needs some ice time and the minor injury to Anssi might be a blessing in disguise. As a Thrasher fan from the beginning I have come question the value of 3rd round or lower draft picks. If we get any value at all out of this Habs variable pick it will be a bonus.

The Kovy quote reaffirms what I believe. He will resign if the long-term contract number represents market value. Hey Bruce L, get used to this number 100,000,000. If the sight of it makes you choke or lose control of your bodily functions, we can pass the hat at each home game.

S Grace

Sam

April 2nd, 2009
9:43 pm

Toby Enstrom – 8th round draft pick. You never know, Sean.

BlueSpark

April 2nd, 2009
10:10 pm

The 25th and 26th place teams (LA and PHX) play tonight. They’re both 1 point ahead of the Thrashers.

mknobler

April 2nd, 2009
11:06 pm

Sean Grace and RobD Thanks. The thing that stuck out to me about what Kovalchuk said is that it was not in response to a question about Anderson. It was just something he wanted to say. I wondered the same thing you did about it; is it another sign that Kovalchuk sees himself as part of this team a year from now, post-trade-deadline? Sure sounded that way.

Brendan

April 2nd, 2009
11:32 pm

Sean Grace, I think your post is very important. Ovechkin signed a 13-year/$124 million contract, for a cap hit of $9.5 million. Kovy is within his rights to ask for whatever the market will bear for his services. But if Levensen and the rest of the 7 Dwarves want to be UNDER the $100 milllion figure, they’ll have to go with fewer years, but still a cap hit of $10+ million per season. For example, seven years/$70.7 million for cap hit of $10.1 million. Kovy might agree to something like that. I would say … that’s a fairly decent “compromise.”

But, if Kovy’s deal is more like what Vancouver was offering Sundin, 2 years/$20 million, have the Thrashers really solved anything?? All that did was buy some time . Personally, Sean Grace, I’m much more happy with a 12-year/$121.2 million deal.

Well, that kind of deal still allows Ovechkin to own the “richest” contract in NHL history ($124M) while also giving Kovalchuk his distinction of being the largest cap hit in the NHL. Plus, it pretty much ends any further talks of contractual problems for #17 for the foreseeable future. Kovy would be what? 37?? And by then, if he wants to leave, then BY GAWD, he’s earned it. And if Atlanta hasn’t produced a Cup for Kovy in 12 years, we probably wish him well with his next team, as he chases the silver chalice.

As much as I grumble about contracts much past six years in length, I think there are different rules for different players . I can’t help but notice that Kovy went 1st overall in his draft year. I can’t help but notice that Kovy has had five 40+ goal seasons. And six campaigns of 30 goals or more. In other words, he hasn’t failed to live up to expectations. And since being named Captain, (long overdue, I might add,) both he and the team have responded very positively. If people want to say that naming Kovalchuk Captain was a flagrant attempt to curry Kovalchuk’s favor, let them!! So what??!! The point is … to get that man under contract, and send a message that the Atlanta Thrashers Hockey Club isn’t the “farm team” for the rest of the NHL. We can and occassionally do RE-SIGN some of our top players.

Brendan

April 2nd, 2009
11:47 pm

L.A. 1, Phoenix 0, after two periods. Vancouver trailed Anaheim, 2-0, then scored four straight to take a 4-2 lead. They’re in the final minute of the 2nd period, and now the score is 5-5. Crazy.

San Jose is leading Edmonton, 2-1. The Detroit Red Wings lost in regulation time to St. Louis, 5-4. So, the Sharks need these 2-points very badly. Calgary did hold off Dallas, 2-1. So, Vancouver needs points in this game with the Ducks, for that division title chase. Also, Carolina came up with two (2) 3rd period goals to defeat the NY Rangers, 4-2. Carolina is looking like a playoff team, after all. At Christmas, I didn’t give them much of a chance. But I think the ‘Canes have won seven in-a-row. And well, there’s no better time to get red hot than in late March and April. The Islanders lost again, so now it’s up to the Hockey Gods, via the ping pong balls, to take Tavares away from them. Well, I guess Colorado could still finish beneath them. Did the wheels fall off, or what, out in the Rocky Mountains? The Avalanche were in the 2nd round of the playoffs last year.

Alan

April 3rd, 2009
12:05 am

Brendan, in their last six games, the Avs have six goals for, and 29 goals against.

Now that, my friends, is a statistic.

Brendan

April 3rd, 2009
12:48 am

That’s 5 goals against, just about, per game, by Colorado. They’re not going to win many like that. St. Louis took a big step towards the playoffs with that win over Detroit. I can’t believe the Blues are still in this hunt. What a magnificent finish to their season if they pull this off. It’s tough to overcome injuries like they have. St. Louis is a good hockey town. I hope they sneak in. I also want Nashville, which had had injury problems, to get in.

How ’bout those Columbus Blue Jackets? I don’t think it’s a “fluke.” They came up with a PLAN after they fired Doug MacLean. GM Scott Howson deserves credit. Columbus isn’t in, quite yet, but they are inching ever closer . Accountability. It’s a good thing.

Brendan

April 3rd, 2009
12:50 am

Canucks and Ducks are in the shootout.

Brendan

April 3rd, 2009
12:53 am

Ducks win it!!! Flames fans are cheering in Alberta!

squawks mcgrew

April 3rd, 2009
7:47 am

Never had a losing season. Anybody find it interesting how close Anderson’s getting to keeping that resume fact in tact?

Sara

April 3rd, 2009
9:02 am

Brendan, something to keep in mind when throwing around the big cap hit numbers for Kovy. We have to remember that there is a ceiling on individual contracts as a percentage of the total cap itself – 20% in fact. $10M per works as long as the total cap stays above $50M. But what happens if it doesn’t? Is there a grandfather clause that allows individual contracts to exceed the 20% limit?

I just personally think contracts like that are assinine, no matter how good the player is. As we all know from firsthand experience, having a $10M player on your roster is pointless when the rest of the roster is filled out by whomever is the cheapest player you can find to sign. Pittsburgh is getting themselves into a bit of a spot with their big contracts to Sid and Malkin. They will have $22M tied up in their top three centers once you throw in Staal’s new contract which kicks in next season along with Geno’s. Chew on that for a few moments.

Washington is pushing some limits. While Ovy and Green are wrapped up for a few years, they have 17 other regular players from this year’s roster to sign in the next two seasons…including both goalies. Now obviously one can be ditched in favor of Varlamov, but still…that’s a whole lot of negotiating and they’ve got some primo young talent up there that’s going to want to get paid.

Players have to be willing to give some as a group to make things work. Look at Detroit’s salary structure…highest paid player this year was Lidstrom at $7.45M. Zetterberg’s new contract will get him up a bit higher. But not one player is signed for more than $8M. Think these guys are leaving some money on the table deliberately? But they understand – to make the group strong, in terms of money, each player needs to be willing to give some. Not that aren’t still well-compensated, but guys like Hossa or Zetts could easily go on the market and fetch potentially $9M or maybe even more.

To bring this discussion back local, we have a lot of good young talent ourselves that I personally would like to see hang around for the long haul. I think Bogosian is going to ultimately be as elite as Kovy. Little will certainly be deserving of increased fundage. Replacing Kozlov, paying Army, adding another upgrade or two here and there…these are things that must be in order for this team to compete. Irrespective of the whole issue of whether or not the owners can afford such combined salaries, we have to have the cap agility to make that happen. My hope is that Kovy will see that and perhaps not seek as much as $10M per year. Is he worth every penny – oh yes and then some, but to the point of being detrimental overall to the franchise – that’s a really tough call.

Dwayne H. Johnson

April 3rd, 2009
9:23 am

Is Col. tanking it for Tavares? They look worse than the Thrashers looked in the first half of the year.

Mountainboy

April 3rd, 2009
9:34 am

The Avs have a crapload of injuries though. Cant remember where I saw it but somewhere I read that they only played 2 vet Dmen vs the Yotes, and that Smyth’s injury left Hejduk as the only top six forward that started the season with them. With that in mind its easy to see how theyve had trouble lately, but it makes me wonder about em, and whether or not Scotty Parker really WAS always injured (it always seemed just a little too convenient to me)

Toby

April 3rd, 2009
9:49 am

I believe Kovy can sign for whatever he wants, however he knows that the ASG won’t go far over the minimum, and his contract $$ will have major implications on who else we sign IMO. I’m sure he can sign for $10.5 a year for 8 years if he wants, but the only chance he as to get his All Star center is through our system if that gets signed.

Robbie Robinson

April 3rd, 2009
10:25 am

Former Atlanta Knights all-star, Stan Drulia, was named IHL Coach of the year for the Port Huron Icehawks. Also Monon Rheaume is on the Icehawk’s front office team,and she is still a FOX! Link to

Alan

April 3rd, 2009
10:40 am

Toby, I see Kovalchuk signing here for 8.5m/yr. He can certainly command a huge salary increase in the range of 10m+, but given his recent comments, he seems more than just a little optimistic about the future of the franchise.

I’m getting too far ahead of myself here, though. I just hope it all works out and we can get him signed. Levenson said he would open the checkbook for Kovalchuk, so let’s see him put his money where his mouth is — quite literally. With as many dunderheaded things Levenson and Co. have done in recent years, anyone with half a brain and only a grain of business sense knows that Kovalchuk is the reason so many fans have shown up for games. Without him here, attendance would be quite low indeed.

[...] defenseman Anssi Salmela dealing with a facial injury, defenseman Boris Valabik is expected to return from a shoulder injury this weekend. He suffered his injury in a fight with Penguins goon Eric Godard last [...]

Jason

April 3rd, 2009
11:24 am

Does anyone have Anderson’s record since taking over in Atlanta?

Old Time Hockey

April 3rd, 2009
11:30 am

The way you continue to win with a couple of high salaried players on your roster is to draft well. People tend to look at rosters and not assume any flux. With free agency it is not possible to keep a team unchanged for a number of years. Players will come and go, but if you are drafting well, you will keep stocking with young, hungry (lower salaried) players. What are Little and Bogosian going to earn when their time comes? But by then Kozlov and White’s salaries will be gone and, hopefully, we’ve got a couple of youngsters ready to replace.

Brendan

April 3rd, 2009
11:46 am

Sara, I believe that it works like this. But DON’T QUOTE ME!! The player’s cap hit shrinks to 20% of the cap limit. But he still gets PAID whatever the contract was worth. I think the exception to that is if there is another “rollback” as part of a Lockout settlement. Last time, it was 24-percent. And ALLLL players agreed to it. That’s why big markets like NY and Philly “front loaded” the contracts of Drury and Briere, such that those guys collected their money UP FRONT. And if there’s a rollback, in 2011, when the CBA expires, it won’t really affect them since they already got their money. They’d just lose 24% of the future earnings. And have to live with whatever potentially lessened cap figures become reality.

I’m not a fan of huge contracts, either in high dollars or longevity. But in the case of Kovalchuk, one must weigh the ramification of LOSING him versus retaining him at $10+M cap hit. Which “reality” does more detriment, longterm or short, to the team?

A) You keep Kovy, you pay him $10+M, for quite a while.
B) You lose Kovy, free up $6.5 million in cap room.

I’d love for an Option “C” – Kovy signs for $8.5 million in cap hit. But he’s not obligated to take less than his market value. The only person that I think you’d see TAKE LESS … is Hossa. If the Red Wings told Hossa, “Look, we’re tied and bound here. We’ve got to lock up Franzen. I can keep ya, but only at $5.0 million.” Hossa would probably say, “Where do I sign?” Is that ANYWHERE near Hossa’s value? Hardly. But for players who are financially independent , it’s no longer about the money, as much as it is about getting what they want. And in Hossa’s case, that’s Detroit.

ranallo10 (in AT)

April 3rd, 2009
11:51 am

Jason — It’s the same record you see in the standings column of TSN or ESPN…33-38-6.

Re: Salary Cap — Keep in mind that Enstrom’s new contract hits the books next season, which compensates for the $2.9M lost by subtracting Havelid. That means that realistically there is only $1-5M available to spend (taking into account Schneider’s contract) for the Thrashers defense to stay at the same cap hit it was to start this season. Then you take into account Lehtonen needs to be re-signed, as do at least 9 other players who are on RFA contracts. There already isn’t much money to throw around, so where is the money needed for improvements going to come from? Surely the ASG wont swallow hard and dish out more…so we’re not looking too well (in my opinion) with regards to re-signing core players and improving via free agency.

Smoothie

April 3rd, 2009
11:51 am

Uhh Jason, Anderson’s record started with the season. So I would say 33-38-6 is a pretty safe bet.

I agree with Alan about Kovy’s optimism about the future of this franchise. He’s savvy enough to understand that, while he may get market value of $10-$11 M / year, such a large deal can really hamstring a franchise. I personally think that he will focus on a 2-3 year extension to see if this thing really does round into form. With the prospect of Little, Bogo, Toby, Colby, Ronsey and hopefully Marty as the core for the near-future and beyond, he knows that great teams are built from the draft and within.

I would not be surprised at all if Kovy signed a bonus-laden contract in the neighborhood of $8 – $8.5 M / year over 2 or 3 years. He’ll still be 28 or 29 depending and be able to latch onto a Stanley Cup contender if things don’t work out here. I think Kovy has a lot more pride than we’re giving him credit and there is a big part of him that wants HIS team to rise from the ashes and achieve greatness with him steering the ship as Captain.

Smoothie

April 3rd, 2009
11:53 am

Oh yeah, Sara makes some very valid and salient points about salary cap and the future economics of the NHL. It will be interesting to see how FA unfolds this year when there aren’t really that many marquee players on the open market beyond Hossa, the Sedin twins and a few others.

Hockey Biltong

April 3rd, 2009
12:05 pm

Brendan, thanks for checking. I must have brain farted.
I would love for Le Thrash to run with the Detriot team salary concept. Believe in yourselves and win as a team in games. And have a solid player base with unity for a longer period than most teams.
It will be interesting to see how Detroit does in the next, say, 4 or 5 years. It looks like a good way to go about winning, in salaries and games.

Riceowls8891

April 3rd, 2009
1:02 pm

Really long term contracts are a crap shoot. Ovechkin’s has worked, so far, but how do they keep, Semin (RFA in 1010), Backstrom (850K), and Green all happy with the cap thats left? Besides, how do you think the Isles like Dipietro’s 15 year deal, right about now?

mknobler

April 3rd, 2009
2:32 pm

No news from this morning’s skate. Johan Hedberg in net, Boris Valabiik returning to defense in the place of Anssi Salmela, neither Salmela nor Kari Lehtonen here.

fly on the wall

April 3rd, 2009
2:47 pm

Levenson is already out drinking again

Buzilla in CT

April 3rd, 2009
4:17 pm

Anssi = Anus

is that pronounced the same way?

Alan

April 3rd, 2009
4:35 pm

Buzilla, Anssi pronounced more like “an-see,” from what I understand.

Brendan

April 3rd, 2009
4:50 pm

Executive Vice President, Board of Governor Member, Director of Hockey Operations, General Manager, and overall Hockey Czar Don Waddell was just on 680 the Fan at 3:55 PM. I missed most of it, unfortunately. But I caught the part about Waddell saying, “At this point next year, we’ll have $11 million more dollars to spend.” Now, maybe I had cotton in my ears. But that’s what I swear I heard him say. Perhaps, that WASN’T ACTUALLY WHAT HE SAID. But, someone ELSE surely must had heard that GM interview that Buck and Kincade had this afternoon. My AM radio reception inside my building … is TERRIBLE, at best.

Old Time Hockey is right . The way to maintain what Oilers GM Kevin Lowe called, “The two tiered payroll system,” is to continuously draft well. This way, you always have an infusion of new, fresh, underpaid yet skilled players into the organization. At the same time, it allows you to keep your Yzerman, Sakic, Modano, Brodeur, Iginla, Lecavalier “franchise” type players around.

But, if they have two to three bad drafts, they’re done, in terms of retaining the corps nucleus. At that point, they must make a trade, like what TB did when they sent Brad Richards to Dallas. I’m sure they’d have preferred to keep St. Louis, Lecavalier and Richards together for the balance of their careers.

On the other hand, this issssss what the Salary Cap was supposed to do. It’s supposed to prevent “dynasties,” and force very skilled, veyr capable players into other markets, either via trade, or via the Free Agent Market.

Alan

April 3rd, 2009
5:06 pm

I didn’t find out D-Wad was on the radio until after I got back to the shop from my on-site. I wish I could have heard the entire thing.

If someone heard the entire thing, I would really like to know what all was discussed, and particularly what he said.

kracker

April 3rd, 2009
6:42 pm

Apparently, the big thing DW said is that he is willing to, or intends to, trade a goalie for forward talent this summer. Stay tuned…. I didn’t hear it but some ppl here did.

http://forums.atlantathrashers.com/index.php?showtopic=25765&st=0&#entry442168

kracker

April 3rd, 2009
7:18 pm

So Konbs, Kari didn’t make the trip? Is Turp the backup?

jerry

April 3rd, 2009
9:03 pm

Kovulchuck has not made a decent pass in a week. Can he?????

kracker

April 3rd, 2009
10:19 pm

Moose, and the team in front of him, is playing well enough for a goalie trade to be made, IMO. 5 game winning streak for Moose, 4 for the team.

Alan

April 3rd, 2009
10:34 pm

kracker, which one do we trade? That’s the $64,000 question.

kracker

April 3rd, 2009
11:20 pm

Indeed it is, Alan. Here’s where Waddell really earns his salary. Most of us fans just aren’t close enough to the team and players to really know, beyond a guess. What is Kari’s current injury? Will Kari ever stay healthy? He is great, at times. Is Pavs ready? Is Pavs a real NHL number one goalie?

Heck, even Moose could be traded in a deal at the draft, maybe in a package to move up if the Thrashers win out and move down in the draft 1 or 2 more positions. They could possibly pass up to 4 teams. Right now we are the final team ini the lottery.

Brendan

April 3rd, 2009
11:23 pm

I don’t think we should trade either one. Wait. Let me rephrase. I think we should ‘honor a trade’ if one is asked by either goalie. In other words, if Pavelec is less than impressed with the Thrashers organization and would prefer a change of venue, then yes, Waddell should shop him, provided that Pavelec keeps his fool mouth shut about wanting out. But, honestly, I haven’t heard that Pavelec is overly disgruntled. He knows how he played when he got his chance up here. He played himself out of a shot at being the #1 goalie. And that’s fiiiine. Good lord! He’s 21!!!! He’ll do NOTHING BUT IMPROVE with time … time that virtually ALL goalies need for development.

But as long as both Kari and Ondrej are “happy” to be a part of the Thrashers organization, then both should stay. It’s not like we acquired either one as some “throw away” sixth round pick. The price tag on Kari was a STEEP 2nd overall pick . And Atlanta passed on Setoguchi, Staal, Kopitar and Ryan O’Marra , to move back to 12th, from 8th position, to acquire Pavelec in the 2nd round of the 2005 Draft. So … no … I don’t think Atlanta should quit on either Kari or Pavelec. Not after the “investment price” they paid for them. Especially when this could be a formidable “1-2 punch” for the coming years. The Thrashers can use this upcoming lottery draft pick to acquire a Center, if that’s what they feel is best to do. Whether that’s by actually drafting said Center, or prying an existing one off some other team’s starting roster. Though, I’m not a fan of doing that. That player didn’t ask to be Atlanta. Who knows? Maybe another Peverley waiver claim acquisition will be out there again next season? I’m much more receptive to THAT!

Plus, it’s going to bother me if I don’t say it. Why stop the building project ‘half-way’ through? Cut the crap . I don’t buy, for ONE SPLIT SECOND, that this organization has some “playoff ultimatum” proposed for next season. Pfft! Riiight. The word “accountability” will not resurrect itself until 2011.

What does that mean? It means … that if the Thrashers make the playoffs, it’s a fortunate accident . While I’m all in favor of “serendipity,” I’m hardly counting on it. Don Waddell won’t be getting fired. Despite the results. And they won’t fire him next year, either, if the team finds itself outside of the playoffs once again. So, I repeat. “Why stop the building project ‘half-way’ through?” Next year is just YEAR THREE of the FOUR YEAR PLAN. If the Thrashers keep on their course of a salary cap minimum payroll, or thereabouts , they will GET what they paid for. Namely, another lottery draft finish. Sooner or later, this club will land a top flight center from the draft. Heck, they still have ’some shot’ at Tavares. Remember when Chicago, from the #5 spot, WON THE LOTTERY DRAFT, and selected Kane ? That, theoretically, is still possible for Atlanta. Although, if they don’t start losing some games soon, it won’t be a possibility.