Optimistic or skeptical?

The Thrashers  finished strong. I’m going to write a season wrap-up for Tuesday’s newspaper (posted on the Web site sometime Monday) after a day to think things over. I’m curious if you guys go into the summer thinking things will get better or that the Thrashers will be unable to carry their season-ending momentum into the fall.

For now, though, let me give  you something to think about. Red Wings scout Glenn Merkosky had a seat in the press box Saturday night. Now, the Thrashers and the Lightning aren’t in the playoffs, so who was he looking at? Kari Lehtonen, perhaps. Remember, the Red Wings were rumored to be interested in Lehtonen at the trade deadline. The Thrashers have a goalie surplus. And Lehtonen was playing for the first time this month. … Of course, Merkosky might have been looking at a player on the Lightning, for all I know. But if he was looking at Lehtonen, he had to be impressed.

64 comments Add your comment

Wayne from AL

April 11th, 2009
11:52 pm

As long as Waddell remains GM, I’m skeptical; Waddell has lived long past his expiration date as GM.

Wayne from AL

April 12th, 2009
12:02 am

Final attendance: 599,673 or 14,626/game (29th out of 30)

R. Stroz

April 12th, 2009
12:16 am

And currently, according to nhlnumbers.com, the Thrashers are 30th out of 30 teams in payroll.

Seems like a positive correlation between attendence and payroll.

LAC

April 12th, 2009
12:37 am

Hard to pinpoint… Believe it or not… we scored the exact same number of goals as San Jose, THE Number #1 team in the NHL….

We scored more goals than 9 teams going to the playoffs.

Problem ? GOALS AGAINST… 280,only Toronto 293 gave up more, TB had 279. The same issue that has happened every year with this team, we cannot stop other teams from scoring.

And with that in mind… I will accept nothing less than the firing of don waddell. Why, first he has been here too long, we need a breath of fresh air and new direction. Second, record, a LOSING one since he came here and NOTHING changes. Third, no commitment to winning, he brings in
third and fourth tier UFA’s, Perrin, White, Metropolit, Williams and the list is a LONG one… We need front line players, he said tonight
on TV, we need a number 4 defenseman and a number 6 winger, NO don, we need a #1 defenseman or two and three front line wings etc…
Lastly in ability to simply get the job done, waddell is so outclassed by ALL other NHL GM’s it’s awful, he had no talent for scouting and zero ability to lure in top players and most of the ones he does get are almost worthless.

So for our playoffs & Stanley Cup, I hope Atlanta STUPID Group
calls a news confrence Monday morning and fires the bum !!!!

There is NOTHING that would improve this franchise more then don waddell going away FOREVER, then we can all look forward to a fresh start ! Like it was noted on the blogs, look at Columbus, they fired Mclean and turned the franchise around, When will these worthless owners ever make a move that makes sense !!!???

Jason(Darkhorse)

April 12th, 2009
12:37 am

Too many questions to answer for the Thrashers before feeling optimistic on my part. Start answering them on Monday, then maybe I will change my tune. I want DW moved out of the GM role. My only fear with that would be the owners actually bring in someone worse, like Mike Milbury.

Nice win tonight and great crowd. Still can’t decide what to do about the goalie situation. I wish the Wings would offer up Filppula and a draft pick for a resigned Kari. That would help my decision.

Jason(Darkhorse)

April 12th, 2009
12:43 am

Thanks for a great year in Blogland Mike! Look forward to draft and FA talk in the coming weeks.

Frosty the snowman

April 12th, 2009
12:59 am

“Some more pieces, and we can turn this thing around quickly,” team co-owner Bruce Levenson said. “We’ve got this franchise headed in the right direction now. I can’t wait for the [2009-10] season to start.”

Kovalchuk said he wants to see the Thrashers invest in free agents.

“Hopefully this summer we’re going to do something to build our team,” he said. “Already we made great moves at the [trade] deadline. We kept the right guys here. Everybody worked so hard the last 35 games. I think we can play at a higher level.

“We need to sign some free agents, spend some money. … I don’t want to compete just for the playoffs. I want to compete for the [Stanley] Cup. I think this city deserves it.”

This sounds all to familiar to Marian Hossa before his last season, frightening! If we don’t get the right pieces, which I do not trust Wadell to do, Kovy is gone the same way Hossa left!
What scares me is the owners are going to look at the end of the season and not fire Wadell just as last year after firing Harley we won a few games but still stunk it up. Wadell will probably be retained on the basis of our playing better the end of this season, even though we are 4th from last in the league. Everyone will hope for free agents and we will not get tier 1 free agents again! We will overpay for mediocre free agents(Hainsey, not worth 4.5 mil/year) and we will be in the same boat again, but hey maybe we can finish 5th worst in the league next year.

Thrashers27

April 12th, 2009
1:15 am

Great way to close out the season, boys!!! I enjoyed it thoroughly! If we can bring in another top line/premier player and keep the core intact, this team will be very competetive come this time next year…

I’m thinking Gaborik…can I get an “AMEN!”?

Wayne from AL

April 12th, 2009
1:21 am

Gaborik?! If an offensively challenged team like the Minnesota Mild doesn’t want Gaborik, why would we? (Unless it was because Jacques Lemaire wanted to win games 1-0.)

sisu

April 12th, 2009
2:13 am

Frosty & LAC, thanks for bringing all of us down who were at the game~! So, LAC, you want to fire DW, who do you see replacing him with? Also, I think a second line winger is needed but to try to go sign a #1 dman is easier said than done. Who is available out there? Lets look to the Ducks, I think they are the only team out there that has a dman who could truly be #1.

As to trading Kari, no way should that happen unless we get the top 5 prospects of Detroit, Hossa, Datchuk, and Lidstrom in return!!!!

easter bunny

April 12th, 2009
7:45 am

we actually have a “team” considering who is on the roster for next season. some of you act like DW has a sabotage plan in effect to destroy what appears to be headed in the right direction. if he tries to add brett sterling again, criticize him rightfully so. to me this hasn’t worked, but DW and fans at some point every year cry for it. we give second and third chances to fringe players who have yet to prove they can cut it in the nhl full time. the new blood and life we called up this year seemed to work. i am hoping hoff gets a call up next season. a good organization rewards players, we did a little of that this year with some call ups.

if DW fails to lock up colby armstrong and reasoner for a few seasons, get mad. if his upgrades are more jason williams types that don’t fit, burn him at the stake. call me crazy..but DW figured it out this year, albeit near the end of the season and any hope of bonus hockey in atlanta. minus perrin, your guess is as good as mine in regards to who will more than likely not be a thrasher next season.

get off the back of a player like valabik. most of you complained about little’s first cup of coffee here also, look how he turned out. not a comparison, but valabik is the real deal, he along with this team simply has to grow, and if he grows anymore his head will hit the ceiling of philips. for once we look decent on D, though hainsey still worries me. we are young and unproven, give them some sort of chance to succeed, i think the effort past the all star break warrants that. if you are a jeff schultz type, go spread your doom and gloom criticism elsewhere, knowing full well that you couldn’t do a better job. valabik adds some extra grit and the intagibles it takes to win back there. he clears the crease and he is a monster in the corner. some of you tend to think games are won because of stats, you need the little things to make those stats possible. i suggest wathing the entire game and all that happens behind the play or in the corners. we have not had a valabik type, we had a worthless andy sutton type, valabik is how a big physical d man should play. he obvioulsy needs some work on his mobility, but again..he is adjusting on pace. i would rather have him than some fossil like havelid or a non physical pylon who is taken advantage of in front of our net. if lehtonen ever goes to philly he’d be dominant, no one touches their goalies without paying a price , and they run yours. we have ex and valabik as the only guys who are capable of truly defending our crease, like it or not.

this overall core is a lot better than the departed core that had zero heart to go along with a severe lack of talent. “this” thrasher team seems to understand they don’t have a plethora of talent either, but games can be won with hard work. i think that’s what most fans ask for, win or lose, don’t give us a heartless product who plays one period a game, but the players are cute, thus the puck bunnies sugar coat it. we need a gritty team that CARES about winning. i think we at least have that, so i am optimistic. this is the best locker room we’ve ever had, these guys care about each other, and kovy emerged as the leader, it wasn’t simply given to him. he had the C long before they etched it into his sweater.

i have mixed sentiments regarding lehtonen. when healthy he is a top notch net minder. sadly he can not stay healthy for even most of the season, let alone a full season. i like what i see in Pavs, Hedberg should be this teams new goal tending coach, no offense to weeks. I hope Moose stays / comes back to – this organization if this is indeed his last season as a thrasher. i have a feeling he has at least 2 more seasons in him as a backup, but it may not obviously be plausible “here”.
if lehts is traded, DW must get a return of an nhl star. kari is a number 1, like it or not when healthy. the ball is in DW’s court, i still like philly rumors better than the detoilet ones. the wings win for a reason, they don’t ship talent out , and they aren’t as desperate as people think. they did win the cup last year with a goalie who isn’t considered top tier. philly owes us a budding star ! return the favor of coburn.

congrats to Boults, he is the knuckles and boults that often goes to war for our team, and he won a heck of a lot more than he lost this season. i’m glad we finally committed somewhat to not being a pushed around soft team that we typically become after a few games. this team battled once they started playing for each other, and it ended on a positve note.

Alan

April 12th, 2009
8:04 am

If an offensively challenged team like the Minnesota Mild doesn’t want Gaborik, why would we?

Gaborik wants to play offensively open hockey. The Wild are a defense first team. Gaborik, therefore, is very unhappy in Minnesota. However, Atlanta’s style of play fits him like a glove.

LAC

April 12th, 2009
8:49 am

sisu GIVE ME A BREAK !

Sara

April 12th, 2009
9:50 am

Gaborik has lost 154 games to injury in eight seasons and will likely demand at least $8M/year on a contract. That doesn’t strike me as the wisest of moves. That’s the kind of risk that could really screw this franchise right now – we’ve got so many other players with pending contracts coming up to blow that kind of money right now on a not-a-sure-thing.

This off-season is going to come down to the same issues the last few have…$$$$$. You know…the one thing totally and completely out of Waddell’s or anyone else’s control other than the Seven Witless Wonders. I haven’t heard a thing yet from any owner that suggests they found a pot of gold recently and will now be able to spend significantly above the cap floor.

In the next two off-seasons, the Thrashers have to deal with new contracts for Kovy, Army, Peverly, Kozlov (or a replacement should he retire), Reasoner, Little, Boris, Kari, Pavelec, and a host of lower-tier players and prospects. That’s a big financial increase all by itself without adding pricey free agents to the mix. I’d say there’s still legitimate concern about whether the owners can afford to bankroll just the player retention at this point.

I want this team to kick arse and take names as much as anyone else next season. But IMO, irrespective of management changes or not, it’s just too premature to make bold moves this off-season that do not involve said player retention. Not until the owners are sure they can afford to sustain it all.

So if I were a reporter speculating on what may come this off-season and asking questions of the “people in the know,” that’s where I would start. Cause there’s no point in researching the amenities of a 2009 Lexus when you’ve only got $15K to spend.

R. Stroz

April 12th, 2009
10:38 am

Sara – What about a used Lexus?

Kind of like a 36 year old player losing his wheels due to age.

I just love a hanging curve ball.

Alan

April 12th, 2009
11:47 am

and will likely demand at least $8M/year on a contract.

Conjecture does not make for very good facts. I believe Gaborik knows he can’t ask for that sort of salary. 5.5m/yr for two or three years, in an effort to prove he can play injury free seasons, would be a wise move for someone who is as potent as Kovalchuk. Assuming he can demand 8m/yr and not be laughed at due to his history of injuries has me scratching my head. I don’t think any team will take that sort of cap hit for someone whose groin is made of glass more brittle than Lehtonen’s.

Brendan

April 12th, 2009
12:21 pm

Ladies and Gentlemen, Bruce Levensen , clap, clap, clap. Comedy Central, why haven’t you locked this guy up yet? If I were Bruce’s agent, I’d have him touring 50 venues on the comedy club circuit. People think Yogi Beara came up with some doozies, “90-percent of the game is HALF mental.” “He said that, when he was alive.” And so forth. Bah-dum-bump! I swear, I’m gonna pay a struggling drummer to follow Levensen around just to do rim shots, then crack, “try the veal, folks. Don’t forget to tip your waitress.”

Did I, or did I not just read the following: ‘Some more pieces, and we can turn this thing around quickly,’ team co-owner Bruce Levenson said. ‘We’ve got this franchise headed in the right direction now. I can’t wait for the [2009-10] season to start.’

Well gee, didn’t Bruce say, LAST YEAR, that the team was moving in the right direction? May I ask Bruce something, honestly? When DOESN’T HE think the team is moving in the right direction? Last year’s point total was 76. This year’s point total … is 76. So, help me out here? Treading water is now moving in the right direction? Suppose the team lost, in regulation time or overtime or a shootout, it’d have FEWER points than last year. What are the ODDS that Bruce STILL would have said the team is “moving in the right direction?” Okayyyy, I hear ya. Bruce’s point is that the team, since the trade deadline, is moving in the right direction. Ahem, after jettisoning players like Christensen and Schneider, whom his GM acquired. And in the case of Schneider, just to meet the floor of the cap. And well, Bruce, if you don’t empower your GM to acquire and maintain assets at a little closer to the ceiling of the cap than the floor, 76-points is going to be an ANNUAL number for this franchise. You’ve already exceeded the alloted number of times you can claim to be moving “in the right direction.”

Think about it, Bruce. Now, think HARDER. You have two options here. Option #1 … is to continue to the BUILDING PROJECT, currently in Phase II or a 4-year plan,which you publicly DENY is occuring. You can continue to spend at or near the floor, and reload via the lottery draft, adding whatever pieces come your way via waiver claims (Peverly), trade deadline picks/prospects (Esposito, Daultan Leveille, Salmella, Eric O’Dell), and free agency (Jason Williams, Marty Reasoner, Ron Hainsey). Or, there’s Option #2, which is SPENDING MUCH MORE to fix things a bit more quickly. In this option, you clean up the image of the organization, and that means holding your GM accountable. You know what the results are. Six trips to the lottery draft in nine (6/9) completed seasons, including eight finishes out of nine (8/9) in the bottom third of the Eastern Conference, with zero playoff wins. Ask anyone outside of Atlanta if such results warrant retaining the lone architect (GM) of this, and they’ll laugh hysterically, and tell you to ‘cut the dose’ of whatever drugs you’re on.

Now apologists, I AGREE with you that Waddell wasn’t really handed the keys to the spending kingdom. He was basically instructed to keep the payroll low, which he did. He tried the ‘best he could’ with the options and resources he was given. Given Atlanta’s market, he KNEW, from DAY ONE, that like Ottawa, Buffalo, Phoenix, Carolina, and Edmonton, he’d have to draft something close to FLAWLESSLY to succeed, without a budget. Did he do that? No. He’s improving. But really, would some other team’s Assistant GM have messed up the Bogosian pick? Bryan Little was a consensus select for his draft position, too. But I digress.

Bruce, it’s your team. You’ll do whatever you jolly well please with it, including retaining Waddell. That’s extremely evident. But don’t you DARE act surprised when the STH’s bolt … and the arena erupts for goals by the opposing team. Don’t you DARE expect Ilya Kovalchuk to take LESS, given that he’s had a half-dozen or so 40+ goal campaigns, with the lackluster supporting cast you’ve afforded him. For that matter, Bruce, don’t ACT SURPRISED that #17 wanted you to spend to the MAX CAP to go get players to try to win the Stanley Cup. Bruce, he’s a player, not a GM. And, perhaps, Ilya wouldn’t make the best of GM’s. He’s FAR better suited as a player, than a “management type.” But Bruce, you DO UNDERSTAND from where Ilya is coming? Don’t you? Your organization let Savard, Kaberle, and Hossa get away, or force trades out. Your organization failed to name a head coach for 76 games. You continue to employ the one and only GM who’s been here for all of it. Including the retention of Head Scout, Dan Marr. Are you really going to be surprised if Kovalchuk says, “nyet” to a contract extension? Or only agrees to 2-year deal, with the understanding that ‘that’s how long’ Ilya is willing to give you to get to a Stanley Cup Finals. And, finally Bruce, are you really going to tell the Thrashers fans that Atlanta’s recouping of $6.5 million in salary cap relief is an acceptable tradeoff for the loss of Kovalchuk, in the 2010-11 season? Honestly now. All your wounds, organizationally, are self-inflicted.

Sara

April 12th, 2009
12:31 pm

Stroz – what hanging curve ball? A used Lexus is not a 2009 Lexus. And a $2M FA is not likely to be a top four d-man. No money = no big-name free agents. So the first question is…do we have any money.

Alan – $8M/year was the original negotiating price earlier this year between the Wild and Gaborik. I won’t deny a bit that he isn’t worth that and presumably his agent should know that. However…markets are markets and if there’s a dearth of talent available on the market, prices will be at premiums anyway, regardless of injury history. (Think about what brainiac Poile gave up for Forsberg at the deadline not too long ago.) Not too mention how often have you ever seen a well-known player take a discount to play for the Thrashers? If a player that talented is available for a bargain price, we won’t be the only ones kicking the tires and if you could choose to go home with the Thrashers or say the Kings or Canadiens (two other teams rumored all season to be very interested), who are you likely to choose? Which means for the Thrashers to get him, they’ll have to outbid everyone else and overpay. We’ve been watching this happen season after season…the laws of hockey are not suddenly going to change overnight.

Alan

April 12th, 2009
1:17 pm

Alan – $8M/year was the original negotiating price earlier this year between the Wild and Gaborik.

Pre-injury. Post? Not a chance. He won’t get him. Considering his history, he is high-risk, high-reward. How many teams are willing to take the risk? And how many teams is Gaborik looking at? From what he said earlier this year, he has been held back in Minnesota, and he wants a more offensively open game.

Atlanta is about as offensively open as they come.

Brendan

April 12th, 2009
1:18 pm

I don’t see Gaborik as the solution. I think he’s a quality player, but he does seem a bit self-serving. Remember, he was a holdout after the Wild’s magnanimous journey to the CF in 2003. I wouldn’t call him “defensively-minded.” And he’s injury-prone. Now, I hear ya. DW doesn’t shy away from the injury-plagued, think Uwe Krupp, Jani Urme, etc. But I don’t think Waddell even has Gaborik on his radar. For that matter, I’m not sure Kovalchuk has him on his radar. I’d like to ask Kovy which FREE AGENTS he had in mind, when he said, “Hopefully, we’ll bring in free agents … to try for the Stanley Cup,” or words to this effect.

I think Sara’s point is a very valid one. What free agent, of the Tier I variety, can Atlanta AFFORD to lock up, longterm, at high dollars, and still get Little, Pavelec, Armstrong, Lehtonen, Valabik, Oysterick, Peverley, Crabb, Thorburn, … and down the road … Zach Bogosian … all locked up. Annnnnnnd, still re-sign Kovy??? Anyone want to re-sign Kozlov in 2010? Or PROACTIVELY, this year? He’s a $3.5 to $4.0 million player, at his market value. He’s also 37, and has reached the age where he particularly becomes susceptible to injury. These are the dilemmas of a GM.

I heard Kovalchuk’s comments. I understand his position. But he’s not the GM. And he’s not the owner. If the owner is going to enter Phase III of the building project, then the opening night budget will be about $4 to $5 million over the floor of the cap. Maybe even LESS. If the ownership group decides to switch gears, half-way through the building project, in favor or more immediate results, or to APPEASE Kovalchuk, it’s got to think about what INHOUSE PLAYERS the organization intends to let go. Sterling? Maybe. Joey Crabb? Maybe. Colin Stuart? Maybe. Thorburn? Maybe. If Thorby doesn’t get a qualifying offer, then he can become unrestricted and sign anywhere that wants him. Slater? Maybe they let him go. Who knows? Slater ain’t gonna break the bank, as my high school English teach keels over and dies.

But the point is, as Sara states, there are pahhhlenty of contracts to get done this offseason, both proactively and just to retain the player for another season or two. Of the RFA and UFA variety, alike. I preach about being PROACTIVE. But if PROACTIVE is something this organization cannot stomach, then it still has tough decisions to make about RFAs and UFA’s. Will Reasoner slip away, offended at not being offered a deal DURING the season? And punish Waddell by making him wait until July 1st to re-sign with Atlanta? Will Kari Lehtonen be locked up longterm? Or sign another 1-year deal?

Decisions, decisions.

Alan

April 12th, 2009
1:37 pm

I too see Sara’s point. There is a lot of work to do during the offseason. I just feel it’s disingenuous to write off a tier one player who we know can’t command a huge payday from teams due to his injury history.

Obviously, we’ll see what goes down on 1 July 2009. However, I believe Atlanta has a fighting chance to land him, and sign our RFAs and whatever UFAs we plan to keep. Furthermore, remember that proactive signings of expiring contracts don’t count against the cap until the 2010-2011 season.

Nikita

April 12th, 2009
2:54 pm

I think you guys are assuming a few things that might not be accurate.

1. That we’re keeping everyone. I don’t think we are. We can’t afford to, if we’re going to make ANY upgrades. And I think we still need them in a few key positions. My guesses for those we might trade or let expire: Sterling, Oystrick, Slater, Thorburn, Exelby, and Crabb. Maybe Hainsey, depending on his performance. My guess would be that we lock up most of them and trade them as the season develops.

2. That we don’t have any money. But we have some money. We’re coming from a history, however, of not wanting to spend it. So I doubt we’ll see any acquisitions in the elite category — I’d expect to see a few $4-5 million players instead.

I’m optimistic, but I definitely want to see some moves.

Nikita

April 12th, 2009
3:02 pm

Now that the season is over, I think they need to lock down Reasoner immediately. Like, I want to see that announcement mid-week. Not only does he rule on the ice, but he is adorable. Which, you know, is secondary to his plus/minus and whatnot, but will certainly make it easier for me to lure my girlfriends to games. (”No, really, he looks just like Rob Lowe in ‘Youngblood.’ You want tickets?”) And he wants to be here, so make it freakin’ happen!

P.S. Due to the magic of ebay, I sat in the best seats I’ve ever sat in for the last game. Right beside the tunnel. Unfortunately I could not see the far end boards very well, but the view of everything else made up for it.

Jameson

April 12th, 2009
3:49 pm

Does anybody know if this is Kari’s last RFA contract?

Brendan

April 12th, 2009
4:12 pm

Yes, Jameson. This is Kari’s last RFA contract. Therein lies the dilemma for Waddell. A one-year deal allows Kari to re-sign anywhere next season. Locking him up, modestly, for 3-years, gives him a bit of a “safety net.” But going long, say 5 or more years, really means that Kari is our guy for the foreseeable future. And how would Pavelec view such a move? I think Waddell will opt for a 3-year deal and reevaluate as Pavelec develops. I’d like to have both Pavelec and Lehtonen for the coming years.

Alan

April 12th, 2009
4:16 pm

I think Waddell will opt for a 3-year deal and reevaluate as Pavelec develops.

I believe, given the tantrum at the beginning of the season, that Pavelec is trade bait at the draft. Waddell did say he was trading a goalie. If Anderson likes Lehtonen, then I think Pavelec has played his last game in Thrashers Blue™.

Brendan

April 12th, 2009
4:24 pm

I hadn’t thought of it that way, but I suppose you may be correct, Alan. Maybe Pavelec has played his last game as a Thrasher. If Waddell is dead set on trading a goalie, do we know, with certainty, that he didn’t mean Kari? I can’t use the standard default answer that Waddell wouldn’t trade away a goalie he drafted since, well … he drafted BOTH of these goalies. Hedberg is the goalie he didn’t draft.

Y’all don’t think Waddell meant Moose? Do you? I guess I can’t rule that out. But, really, the market value on trading a goalie isn’t high, when you figure Brygalov was lost on waivers, unable to be traded, and Cristobal Huet only fetched a 2nd rounder at the 2008 trade deadline. What would Hedberg, realistically, net the organization? I think he would garner a 3rd round pick, perhaps a low end 2nd rounder, say picks #55-60.

ranallo10 (in AT)

April 12th, 2009
5:01 pm

“What would Hedberg, realistically, net the organization? I think he would garner a 3rd round pick, perhaps a low end 2nd rounder, say picks #55-60.”

You’re giving the market for backup goalies WAY too much credit, in my opinion. Trading Hedberg would garner the team nothing…at most, a 7th round pick. Look at all of the other trades involving goalies far superior to Hedberg, and see the return they got their rights holding team.

I’ll give you a hint: Cristobal Huet (plus players), 2nd round pick. Ilja Bryzgalov, waiver acquisition. Mikael Tellqvist (from Phoenix), 4th round pick. Jason Labarbera, 7th round pick.

Unless some other unsuspecting GM pulls a Waddell, I wouldn’t expect much to be gained by trading Hedberg.

Hockey Biltong

April 12th, 2009
5:25 pm

Nikita, I must have sat very close to you. I, too, was by the tunnel, and honestly except for it being the last game, would never want to sit there as too much was missed in the attack twice end.

Gaborik is intruiging, but unhealthy. We need more of a Tkchuk type of player. Walt would be the center this team could use, what with the speed we already have.
Remember last year when Brian Campbell turned down all our dough? I’ll bet we get a solid D player this time around, as well as a gritty no nonsense center. This team is rebounding and players can tell. John Anderson is someone they will play for. The second half of the season has shown that.
By the way Boris had an excellent game. His passes were spot on and he keeps getting better.
Till next year…..wait ….till Tuesday for the lottery!

Brendan

April 12th, 2009
7:11 pm

Ranallo. “You got me.” I was just trying to be optimistic. :)

Your analysis is correct.

Nikita

April 12th, 2009
7:52 pm

Biltong, I could amend my comments to “was really great except I could not see much on the opposite end boards, and in the third period we spent way too much time playing directly in front of me.” But the seat itself was good.

stendec

April 12th, 2009
8:23 pm

Excellent job all season Mike. I will be back to torment ya again when the first puck is dropped. Enjoy youself and be safe. God bless. Stendec. PS – Knew those Ohio colleges could never finish the deal on any major stage. First Ohio State in football now Miami Ohio in hockey. Choke job of New York Yankee proportions! Oh well. Asta la vista. For now.

Brendan

April 12th, 2009
9:03 pm

The NHL Lottery Draft will take place Tuesday night at 8PM. Atlanta has a 10.7% chance of winning. And cannot draft any worse than 5th overall.

In other news, Minnesota Wild Head Coach Jacques Lemaire has quit. He’s had enough. He’s through. Lindy Ruff will Coach Canada in the Worlds.

johnNATL

April 12th, 2009
9:09 pm

I agree that Waddell has over extended his stay, but what GM candidate with a decent record or potential would agree to work for the bunch of owners that we have. Given their litigation, which will probably drag out for years with appeals, the opportunity for upgrades on the ice are MUCH better than the possibility of better leadership in the front office.
The most promising thing going for the team now is Kovy’s demonstrated leadership (while maintaining his offensive ability). If Waddell manages to get the dollars and interest some blue-chippers it will be because of the Kovy and the chance to play for one of the most talented players in the world.

beau vighn

April 12th, 2009
9:29 pm

I would rather have a circus monkey as GM instead of Don Waddell. Who could tell the difference. I gave up my season tickets 2 years ago and said I would not set foot back in Phillips until that idiot was sent packing. I stand by that and will continue to catch the game on TV.

mknobler

April 12th, 2009
9:52 pm

Thanks Stendec Have a good summer.

blankspace6

April 12th, 2009
10:36 pm

The Wings can’t afford Kari (or any goalie for that matter) with a salary above $3M a year. It’s just not feasible with all the other signings they have. He also has no reason to give them a “hometown discount” like the other Wings’ players have. .
Maybe he hoped Pavelec would play instead. The kid is cheap.

chemdawg

April 13th, 2009
1:20 am

optiskeptical?

Dwayne

April 13th, 2009
8:40 am

If KL wants to stay, Atl better keep him. If he leaves, and has a big year next year, everyone will be calling for DW’s head….oh….wait a minute, everyone already is calling for his head. Since redwings tied up franzen, where does that leave Hossa? If the pens play, then beat the redwings for the cup, what will Hossa do?? I’m laughing my butt off thinking about it.

GaVaHokie

April 13th, 2009
9:13 am

Be careful what you wish for… you bring in a new GM at this point, Kovy could be gone. The whole thing could be blown up. I’d stick with the GM that wants Kovy locked up long-term. It’s one thing to give the team a minor “face-lift”, but it’s another thing to change the entire culture and look of the team. Every new GM wants to put his own “stamp” on the franchise.

While I’m open for change, this is not the time… I think we need to see how this plays out next year.

Someone needs to remind Kovy that Tampa Bay was a big player in Free Agency last summer.

Alan

April 13th, 2009
9:24 am

Since redwings tied up franzen, where does that leave Hossa?

Two words: Hometown Discount. He’s more than likely staying put.

Nikita

April 13th, 2009
9:41 am

Ugh, Tampa Bay. I’m sorry, but I hate that team. I would not have gone to Saturday’s game if it were not the final, because I don’t think Tampa deserves our notice. I’d rather watch the Thrashers get slaughtered by Philly than watch the Thrash slaughter Tampa. Because, you know, Philly actually plays decent hockey in a real market. On the other hand, it was sweet watching the Thrashers light up both goalies like christmas trees. Have a nice trip back to mulletland, boys, and don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

Thinking about where the team is going this offseason…we’ll have to lose someone to make an upgrade. Right now our only presumptive defector is Eric Perrin. Luckily we have tons of unspent money, but surely we’ll pick up more than one new player to replace/upgrade Perrsy’s spot.

On the positive, the team is now very young, and we could see major improvement over the break. But we still have a major deficiency WRT the defense, and that underscores the desperate need to retain a lights-out netminder. Not Pavelec or Moose, obviously. Personally, I hope we pick up a good backup in free agency, retain Kari, and retire Moose.

On a completely different note, Anssi Salmela is a scary-looking dude. Not so much on the ice, though I think he’ll make a good contribution. But I’d hate to meet him in a dark alley.

And did anyone find it odd that Kovy specifically lauded the 4th line?

Kevin

April 13th, 2009
9:58 am

There is no reason for anything but optimism. This is a young team that played very well in the back half of the season. Late season wins against playoff teams and teams like Buffalo and Florida who were in a desperate fight for the playoffs are great hings to build on. Is there room for talent upgrades, yes. Do we need an overhaul, no.

I would like to thank DW for putting this team together under difficult circumstances and hopefully keeping them together. He takes a lot of unnecessary crap from blowhards who know nothing about building a team, let alone the way DW has to here in Atlanta. The farm team is well stocked. We have a surplus of young Dmen and Goalies. We still have some strong scoring wingers coming up and hopefully Espo will come back 110% from the knee. This is a team we real hockey fans will be excited about for the next 5-7 years. Darren Elliot knows this game as well as anyone, and could not be more positive about how this team changed, came together and played down the stretch. Names dont win hockey games, teams do.

At the pre game tailggate, DW said he will know for sure if the ownership is serious this summer when they put the wheel barrow full of money in front of Kovy. I think they are cautious but should get out of their litigation this year and that means it is time to invest. We dont need to spend money just to spend money. We dont need 35 year old leadership. We dont need big time free agents at all. We need guys who fit in, and play a role. Some of that is scoring, but most of it is keeping the puck out of the net.

For those of you who would fire DW, just go away. There will be plenty of room on the band wagon next year for you to climb back on when this team is playing meaningful games in March and April and securing the 2nd playoff apperance in team history. For now though, all you haters can just go away and start to whine about something else.

Smoothie

April 13th, 2009
10:34 am

“And did anyone find it odd that Kovy specifically lauded the 4th line?”

Nikita, where did you see or hear this? I don’t recall any comments singling out one line after the game Sat night. Was it between periods or something? Nice to see him heap praise on a line that has been a hard-working energy catalyst all year. Too bad they are the only line that seems to consistently maintain puck possession…why do our top 2 lines never seem to cycle the puck?

Smoothie

April 13th, 2009
10:53 am

Kevin, nice post! Despite whatever mis-steps DWad has made over the last few years (or over the last 9 if you are keeping score), now is not the time to upset the apple-cart (pardon the cliche).

Like you said, we need to add some size and scoring aptitude to one of the top 2 lines, re-ink Reasy to solidfy our third line and upgrade our corps of defensemen with a mobile yet physical D-man who is not afraid to throw around his body and dislodge bodies from the top of our crease. Is there a Rhett Warrener type, late 20’s, available in FA?

I would not be surprised to see Pavelec jettisoned at the draft for a middle round draft pick and a young, gritty, physical prospect. Ondrej had his last chance to impress and he was underwhelming in his return. Hell, he didn’t even get a chance to redeem himself (I doubt he was THAT under the weather).

I don’t see Moose getting traded, cut or asked to retire. I say give Kari a 2 or 3 year, incentive-laden deal and tell him it’s time to put up or shut-up. He needs to get himself into the best shape of his life and move his mother over from Finland to cook him all of those tasty Finnish meals he seems to like so much.

If we shore up the blueline to give Hainsey a more proven partner, I think this team can turn the corner. Obviously the key is getting to the point where the allow only 26-30 shots on goal so they aren’t giving up 3.5 goals per game.

But to see this team’s progression in the final 35-40 games makes me optimistic for next season, if not cautiously so. They did manage to improve to the point where the goals against avg was in the 3.10 to 3.15 range over the course of the final 35 games. The addition of Peverley was huge and the 3rd line really started to gel (although I think Colby may be asked to become Marty and Stewie’s linemate next year) down the stretch. If this team can upgrade their size, toughness and grit without sacrificing team chemistry, this team may make a serious move next season. But that is just my humble opinion.

Denny

April 13th, 2009
10:56 am

Why even discuss firing DW, signing Kovey, a top 6 winger, a top 4 defensemen, etc, etc etc? THE REALITY IS NOTHING meaningful can happen until the ownerships court case is resolved! What quality GM or hockey player is going to make ANY committment to the Thrashers until ownership is resolved?

MIKE – when you write your Tuesday story, include the best legal opinion as to when and how the ownership dispute will be resolved. UNTIL THEN THE THRASHERS REMAIN IN LIMBO!

Dwayne

April 13th, 2009
11:09 am

what new GM would come in and not sign Kovy. none. discussion over.
new topic please.

GaVaHokie

April 13th, 2009
11:58 am

Dwayne… my opinion is why would KOVY sign with a new, unproven, unfamiliar GM? A new GM on top of everything else would seem like the straw that broke the camel’s back.

I’d think he’d immediately go into a “wait and see” basis that would force him to be traded at the deadline, like Hossa.

Sara

April 13th, 2009
12:36 pm

Nikita I beg to differ – the absolute wrong assumption is that we *do* have money for some big FA shopping spree.

1 – Belkin has not had to contribute one dime since the lawsuit began, which means that 30% of the capital contributions went out the window.

2 – Seydel admitted in a court of law that he can no longer meet capital calls.

3 – Levenson made it quite clear they are already making pitches to anyone they think would be willing and able to take over Belkin’s 30% as soon as it can be done.

So my whole point is, before anyone even bothers perusing the FA lists this off-season (the GM included), I want to know what if anything the owners are going to do about the payroll budget. Because if they cannot afford to spend any more than essentially the cap floor, we are poly-screwed. Cap floor doesn’t even cover re-signing the players we’ve already got, much less getting anything else worth a crap on the FA market.

My second point to all that would be that if in fact Atlanta Spirit does not have the wherewithall to up the payroll until the lawsuit gets settled, then I don’t want Waddell or anyone else doing anything major other than locking up our own best players. I’d rather stand pat and suck for another season or two in order to get through the lawsuit, get a new partner with $$ in, and then finish filling out the roster needs than knee-jerk react to Kovy or the fans right now and sign some flashy star, which in turn might lead to losing prime RFAs like Little or Bogosian and screwing our long-term success.

GaVaHokie

April 13th, 2009
12:56 pm

I personally thought what needed to be done was done in March… get rid of the old-timers (Havelid and Schneider). Everything else fixed itself.

Adding Peverley to balance out the chemistry on the top two lines was icing on the cake.

Getting Duchene, Kane or Svensson in this years draft immediately replaces Perrin and possibly bumps Armstrong down to the 3rd line with Stuart and Reasoner.

We’re already, as pointed out above, the 2nd highest scoring team in the league… Kovy needs to look at a stat sheet.

Just replace one of Valabik, Salmela, Oystrick or Exelby with a top pairing defenseman and I think we’re good to go with what we already have.