Thrashers offseason updates

I’m back, folks. Sorry for the delay but I got caught up in covering the Hawks’ playoff run and the Braves’ Brian McCann’s new glasses. I will be covering some non-Thrasher stories again next week, but we do have hockey to report.
Had a lengthy meeting and interview with GM Don Waddell this week. We talked about many things, including Ilya Kovalchuk, the draft, the goaltending situation, etc. I just finished writing a story on Kovy that will appear in Sunday’s paper. We talked at length about the contract negotiations. Here’s the hook to the story that I can fill you in on: They will not trade Kovy this year. There will be no Marian Hossa drama at the trade deadline.
Here is what Waddell told me: “At this point I can tell you, I’ve discussed it with the ownership, with the coaches, we have no intentions, regardless of what happens this summer with signing him, we have no intentions of trading him. If you trade every player that is going to come up to be an unrestricted free agent, the way the league is set up you are going to be a free agent at 25 [years old], so we are going to be doing this all the time. You have to look at the big picture and say this year is more important to us than years from now. Florida went through it with [Jay] Bouwmeester. They didn’t trade their big guy, but they missed the playoffs. You are going to see that more and more. Where a player is 25 and he’s going to get a home run deal, but it’s more important right now to keep him and keep the franchise moving in the right direction.”
Kovy wants to see an improved roster before he re-signs. Negotiations are likely to go beyond the July 1st start date. Kovy and his agent need to see what moves are being made. I got a good idea about the draft from my conversation with Waddell and will write about that next week. We could also see a trade at or near the draft, probably including either Kari Lehtonen or Ondrej Pavelec. Goaltending is an area of depth. Stay tuned on that.
Here are a couple updates:
Marty Reasoner: Expect him to be signed soon. Waddell said he is confident it will happen. Some details to work out, but it looks like he will be back.
Toby Enstrom: His surgery went fine and he is expected to be fully recovered by training camp. Don has not spoken to him but Johan Hedberg has. Don said he could have continued to play in the World Championships but it wasn’t worth the risk.
Ondrej Pavelec: He had his knee scoped following the season. He’s back working out already.
Hope that keeps us going through the weekend. I’ll be writing more from my interview with Waddell.
Here is my question: If you have to trade one of the goalies to get some help and convince Kovy to re-sign, which one goes? Lehtonen, the No. 1, but who has injury issues that have prevented him from proving himself an entire season? Or Pavelec, who has big upside but hasn’t proven he can play every day?

166 comments Add your comment

BN

May 14th, 2009
5:22 pm

1) Kovy won’t re-sign… unless he will get a better deal than Ovechkin AND new good forwards AND playoffs 2010.
2) Can the Thrashers meet all 3 requirements? Does the team have enough money to offer Kovy AND to sign new good players that could make him happy AND to keep higher level goalie Lehtonen to make the playoffs?
3) If we trade Kovy we can sign good players and keep Lehtonen to make the playoffs (like Nashville), however without Kovy the team will be less attractive for people to come and watch hockey.

Who do we trade?

nfieldr

May 14th, 2009
5:23 pm

I can’t believe that DW compared Kovy to Bouwmeester. Please tell me he’s not that clueless… or did I misunderstand the quote.

JC

May 14th, 2009
5:30 pm

If Kari were ever healthy, this would be a no brainer. You would trade Ondrej. I’m not convinced though. Maybe it’s time to give the kid a chance and you would certainly get more in return for Kari.

Tony C.

May 14th, 2009
5:50 pm

nfieldr-I think DW was comparing the situation of having a young UFA-to-be Stud player that is critical to your team’s success…do you trade him at the deadline fearing he won’t re-sign or do you (as Florida did) hold onto your blue-chip UFA-to-be for the stretch run?

That’s basically the situation that DW will have on his hands should #17 not re-sign this summer.

B. Thenet

May 14th, 2009
5:52 pm

Is Don Waddell so naive that he thinks that just saying that he isn’t going to trade Ilya at the trade deadline is going to be enough to prevent all the trade deadline nonsense and “Ilya is not signed through next year, OMG” nonsense from affecting the team?

He has learned NOTHING from the Marian Hossa trade saga if that is the case. That whole ordeal sucked the life out of the team, and shameful collapse of the team after the Hossa trade did not come a surprise to many in the NHL. I had read elsewhere in a DW interview that they were looking to trade Ilya if he does not sign this summer, and I was hopeful that some sanity was finally arriving to the Thrashers management.

If Ilya does not sign this summer, trade him. Get more young valuable assets to make the team better now, and in the future. Does DW really think the Florida Panthers are in a better place now that they missed the playoffs AND will lose Jay Bo for nothing?

Who will rid us from this turbulent GM?

Brendan

May 14th, 2009
5:59 pm

I absolutely don’t think the team should trade either goaltender. The only way I’d “greenlight” that project is if the return truly filled a need. Especially, if that “need” persuaded Kovalchuk to re-sign. With a gun pointed at my head, I’d keep Kari. Then pluck a free agent netminder to replace Pavelec. Which again begs the question, “Why are we ditching Pavelec again?” For whatever it’s worth, Kari custom-built a home in Atlanta, supposedly likes it here, and wants to stay. Unless his performance is so subpar that he simply must go, why not let Kari show how much of a ‘hometown discount’ he’s willing to provide to be locked up, longterm, on this RFA deal? That is, ifff Kari really does like it here and wants to stay. I actually believe that he does. If one of these two goalies wants OUT of Atlanta, it’s Pavelec, whose agent, last Fall, griped about Pavelec’s assignment to the Chicago Wolves after training camp.

Guys, I didn’t get the warm-n-fuzzies from this Waddell blurb. What I am hearing, through Waddell’s words is, “It’s better to lose Kovy in free agency than to salvage what the organization can via a trade.” I hope that’s not what he’s really saying, though.

A statement like, “You have to look at the big picture and say this year is more important to us than years from now. Florida went through it with [Jay] Bouwmeester. They didn’t trade their big guy, but they missed the playoffs. You are going to see that more and more.

Ummn, what? Watching “essential” players leave your team because you HOPE you can squeeze into the playoffs is a tell tale sign that things, or something, has been mismanaged or gone wrong. In other words, if Jay Bouwmeester were happy with the way the playoffless Panthers, since seemingly forever now, were being run, he would have been re-signed in the offseason. Or, at a minimum, DURING the season.

Stop. When people ask you to name a “Well-run” organization, who says, “How ’bout the Florida Panthers?” They don’t. The Panthers are not thought to be well-run. And that’s why Bouwmeester didn’t re-sign. There’s been TONS of speculation that the Atlanta Thrashers aren’t particularly well-run, either. Crazy talk, to be sure!! But what if, let’s just say, it’s true? What if the Thrashers are badly mismanaged, and Kovalchuk won’t re-sign?

Still with me? Per Waddell’s words, “We’re gonna keep him, to ‘try’ to keep things moving in the right direction.” Guess what? How does that help to avoid the “dark cloud of uncertainty” that would certainly plague this team all year long, with an un-signed Kovalchuk????? Honestly, now. Honestly. How can THIS, really be ‘the plan?’

No, folks. Ifffffff Kovalchuk won’t re-sign sometime during the offseason, he’s got to be traded. Period, the end. An asset like that cannot just up and walk out the door, for nothing. That reflects a very serious setback. Now, let’s pause a minute. Don Waddell could get Kovalchuk re-signed this offseason. And if he does, all of that “nightmare” goes away. I’m sure ‘that’s the plan.’ But Kovalchuk holds all the cards, here. Kovalchuk has laid down the challenge. He’s, flatout, told Waddell what he expects the organization to do. If the AS, LLC continues to operate the way it is, with salary cap floor spending, and Tier II free agent acquisitions, who’ll be surprised that Kovalchuk has finally seen enough of the Atlanta Thrashers organization? There ARE sunnier shores in the National Hockey League than Atlanta. And no, I don’t think it “helps” one little bit to keep Kovalchuk for “momentum’s sake.” Once Kovalchuk is gone, where went “the momentum?” Yeah, it probably up and left with Kovalchuk. Is there a way to sugarcoat the loss of Kovalchuk? Waddell BETTER get him re-signed, or, traded for something decent.

Hijacker

May 14th, 2009
6:12 pm

It’s mind-boggling to assume that they’ll no Marian Hossa like drama in case Kovy doesn’t get resigned. Is Waddell really that stupid? The media, especially in hockey mad markets, will go after this story just like they did with Bouwmeester this season.

Waddell is desperately clinging on to his job. He knows that if Kovy is gone, he’s gone. Once, again this man puts himself first and not the franchise. I see the big picture Don!

Good luck with trying to convince good FA to sign with the Thrashers! You’ll need it, because nobody is keen to join an organization where the owners are involved in a trail. I expect players similar to Hainsey, Reasoner and Williams to be signed. The usual medicore approach.

Lehtonen has vastly more trade value, than Pavelec. He’s got the talent, the upside (he’s still young in terms of goalie age) and mostly important of all, he has the NHL experience.

anonthrashers

May 14th, 2009
6:16 pm

Trade Pavelec. I just do not think he is meant to be with this team, everytime he gets his chance he just doesn’t cut it. Look at Varlamov. Wish we had him. We just need Kari to stay healthy. With the way the team played at the end and get kari healthy I think next year will be promising.

Glovesave29

May 14th, 2009
6:27 pm

So one of your best young players, and a future cornerstone of the defense (along with Bogo) suffers a horrific injury and you cannot even take the time to call him and check up on him? Don, hang your head in shame.

LAC

May 14th, 2009
6:36 pm

How much more can this franchise stand of LIAR STUPID IDIOT don waddell !!!!!!!!!!!!

Tony C.

May 14th, 2009
6:50 pm

Glovesave-I thought that was pretty telling as well. I mean, even Bobby Clarke visited Lindros in the hospital.
(granted I hear it was to tell him he was fired, but still…)

R. Stroz

May 14th, 2009
7:02 pm

FIRE WADDELL!

He’s determined to kill hockey in Atlanta.

Has there ever been a bigger idiot GM than this guy?

Anyone who thought Waddell was getting better as a GM just found out otherwise. He’s still a clueless idiot.

R. Stroz

May 14th, 2009
7:11 pm

Sounds like Waddell is threatening Kovy, if you don’t re-sign, we will not trade you.

So, lets get this right.

1) Waddell tries to blackmail Kovy into signing

2) Waddell doesn’t have the decency to check on Toby

Waddell. just resign, you suck as a GM and you’re a lying jerk too.

Brendan

May 14th, 2009
7:14 pm

See, I disagree with any notion that Waddell is or will be getting fired, even over the loss of Kovalchuk. Waddell sits down with the owners. He does what they say. They like him. They respect him. They think he does a good job. And if the owners say, “Financially speaking, we can’t trade Kovalchuk and be profitable or salvageable,” What options are left for Waddell?????? (Other than to resign, in disgust.) But the next GM isn’t inheriting a situation that’s easily fixable, either. No GM can fire ownership. What has to change is the ownership’s mentality. They’ve got to be pursuaded to change their business model. Because if they LOVE their business model, and the manner in which Waddell adheres to it, they’re gonna probably lose Kovalchuk. And any other Tier I player who meanders along the Thrashers trail.

Waddell’s got to do … what the owners say. He’s under orders from the ownership to KEEP Kovalchuk. So, he’ll hang on to Kovalchuk for as long as he possibly can, as instructed by ownership. God help us all! Can they be this stupid? Answer: Quite possibly, yes.

I guess they’ll just have to learn by watching the building get emptier and emptier. I can hear Bruce Levenson now, in 2010. “Okay, we see, NOWWWW, that we made a mistake. We held on to a business model and a GM for too long. We’ll never make that mistake again.”

Wow-eeee. What a revelation there, Bruce! A little late!!! Sigh. When the Thrashers got swept out of the playoffs by the Rangers, the ownership had the chance to do something to keep Kovalchuk. They didn’t. They could have cleaned house, changed direction, and empowered a new GM with a robust budget. Or so they claim! The owners claim they have lots of money. They just don’t want to spend it foolishly. That’s their story, and they’re sticking to it.

If they embarked upon a 4-year rebuilding plan, I’m actually “fine” with that. But they should have done it with a NEW GM!! Instead, they have this theory that LONGEVITY at the Post is what will cure everything. The key is that the GM must know that his job is safe, as he plots the rebuilding project. Well, it does appear that we’re now in Year Three of the 2nd “building project.” And I’ll even say Hokie has a point about Waddell “improving.” Aside from Jason Williams and a few other forgettable moves, Waddell hasn’t done anything TRAUMATIC in his moves. It’s been a slow, steady build. But the “culture” hasn’t changed.

The slow, steady build could quite possibly cost the organization Ilya Kovalchuk, who has been more than patient since 2001. Ilya has not failed the Thrashers. The Thrashers have failed him. But I digress. If this is the way things are going to be … then I don’t know what to tell you. Other than, “It’s gonna stink to lose Kovalchuk.”

While I never root for the team’s demise, it gets HARDER and MORE INDEFENSIBLE if the Thrashers are OUT OF CONTENTION at the 2010 trade deadline, to keep Kovalchuk. At least Waddell can MAKE THE ARGUMENT that he HADDDDDDD to hang on to Kovalchuk to make the playoffs, if Kovy goes untraded at the deadline. But if Atlanta is sitting at 62-points on the day of the trade deadline, and an UN-SIGNED Kovy stayyyys, it’ll be anarchy. Mass hysteria. Dogs and cats, living together. We might see a bonfire of tickets.

Jimbo

May 14th, 2009
8:51 pm

Our needs are pretty simple- consistent goal tending and better special teams play on the PP and PK. With Kari’s propensity toward injury, we need both him and Pavelec. Put more focus on the PK and make sure that Reasoner, Stuart and Pevs form the big 3 on the PK. Would be nice to see some real muscle on the 3rd or 4th line. Boulton and Torburn are not the answers.

Wings fan in Ga.

May 14th, 2009
9:00 pm

R. Stroz, if your question about has their been a bigger idiot GM than Waddell can span other sports – yes there has. His name was Matt Millen.

Brendan

May 14th, 2009
9:52 pm

Question: Do you think Waddell intends to “punish” Kovalchuk for not re-signing? I’m not trying to ask a loaded question. I mean, how does this play out? Kovy “pretends” that he wants to re-sign? And Waddell “pretends” that the two sides are in discussions? All while 10 months pass slowly by, each side wondering if they’ve been “caught” yet by the Atlanta fans??

Forgive this post. This is why Waddell has to get something done with Kovalchuk in July/early August. If Jay Grossman is busy until the 3rd week of July, just say so! Everyone will understand. People won’t be mad if the Kovalchuk contract isn’t signed by July 3rd. Just tell the fanbase what’s going on. That’s all. Just say, “We’re waiting until August 1, because that’s when Kovy’s agent is back from vacation.” Fiiiiine. We can all live with that. Really, truly.

R. Stroz

May 14th, 2009
10:46 pm

Wings fan in Ga. – If Matt Millen and Don Waddell were in the same sinking ship, who would care if either gets out?

All the other GMs, Matt and Don make their jobs easier.

All joking aside, both suck; however, I might give Millen a slight edge with that 0-16 record.

Midfield

May 14th, 2009
11:34 pm

The problem is that by now the ASG and Waddell have completely lost credibility. Whatever they say, one needs to read between the lines. So, we’re looking at as many interpretations as there are posters around here.

Jason(Darkhorse)

May 15th, 2009
12:02 am

No clue which goalie should go, if either at this point. I feel like the answer would be whichever of the two can fetch the best return. But if the return is only a 3rd or 4th line NHLer and a 3rd round pick, don’t trade either one.

I love that Reasoner may be resigned soon, as he does bring intangibles this team needs badly. Trading Kari or Pavs though for another Reasoner or Army isn’t what Kovy’s looking for as “talent” in making his decision on resigning I bet. Gonna have to do much better than that. Two more Havalids aren’t gonna cut it either. I’m really worried that the task at hand will be too far over DW’s head……AGAIN.

Kevin

May 15th, 2009
12:09 am

Keep them both, you need goalie depth and Hedberg will be gone in another year. If one must be traded move Pavlec. Lehtonen is a superior goalie, the one year he did stay healthy was the playoff year, I don’t think Pavlec is ready.

Capslock Typeface

May 15th, 2009
8:42 am

No offense, but was this written on the car on the way into work? Rambling with little cohesiveness from sentence to sentence. Paragraphs spaced right on top of each other and very tough to read.

I hope this is not indicative of future articles on the Thrashers beat.

Dwayne

May 15th, 2009
8:54 am

I repeat, you must sign Kari and get him a goalie coach. Hire Moose. Problem solved.

MiltonDawg

May 15th, 2009
8:54 am

As long as Atlanta Spirit is running this ship, this franchise will go nowhere. Kovy is our main feature, need to do whatever it takes to keep him. DW needs to see his way out as well.

GaVaHokie

May 15th, 2009
9:14 am

Chris… I’d like to hear if he had any discussions with Ilya Nikulin.

Welcome back!

Pavelec is not ready to start, especially if Kovy isn’t under contract… you can’t take that risk of him getting eaten alive with Moose as a back-up… and I don’t trust Kari to stay healthy anymore.

If I HAD to keep one of them… Kari… but I trade them both for assets and make a fresh start in goal… Fernandez, Khabilbulin, Craig Anderson, etc.

five_hole

May 15th, 2009
9:20 am

Agree with Glovesave One of your 2 best defensemen (that you gave a 4 year contract to last year) gets his face broken, and you can’t pick up the phone? Why wasn’t he on a plane to Sweden that day? Just another example of why top-tier players don’t want to come to Atlanta.

With regards to the goaltending, I try to trade Lehtonen. When he’s on his game, he’s as good as they come, but a) He’s inconsistent and b) He’s injury-prone. My bottom line is that you can’t count on him and I’m sick & tired of him disappointing me.

With regards to the Kovy situation, does anyone think Atlanta will actually sign top-tier free agents? A) We won’t spend the money and B) Read my thoughts on the Enstrom situation above. Maybe I think athletes are childish when it comes to little things like that, but on the other hand, maybe they are childish when it comes to little things like that.

I predict things will go pretty much the way they did last year. We will overspend to get a middling free agent, promote him as the second coming of Bobby Orr, and be disappointed all over again.

Nikita

May 15th, 2009
9:38 am

I don’t think you trade either right now. This year was a good one for Moose, but he’s older and he can’t carry the team for a lengthy stretch. And there will probably be lengthy stretches where Kari will be unavailable. Plus, Moose is retiring — who’s going to step up if we trade Pavs, Alex Kangas? Am I the only person whose blood ran cold at the thought that Dan Turple might actually play? On the other hand, if Pavs continues to be as rough in goal as he was this season, I can see trading him later in the season. His technique is not great, and neither is his mental state.

As much I think Don Waddell screwed up in the past, I’m really not too unhappy with his recent trades. Like from the Hossa trade on. Here’s hoping he makes good offseason moves.

As to comments on specific players above…I’d say the chances are nil that Eric Boulton doesn’t return. He’s under contract, he improved a lot and showed more finesse and speed than previously indicated, and he actually had very good numbers for his role this past year. Thorburn’s numbers are not great, and he is available to re-up or release, but the coaching staff appears highly enamoured of him. They seem to think, as I do, that he has more development potential. But if you need to make room for new hires, as I think we need to, he’s a good candidate for not resigning.

Jimbo

May 15th, 2009
9:41 am

Brendan- I think that you’re right. We’ve heard this tape too many times- Audette, Savard, Hossa and now Kovy. The better players want to play for a team that has some hope of getting to the top. With DW at the helm and an ownership that does not want to spend, we will continue to squander top talent. If Kovy is not signed by mid- August, paint the ‘09-10 season black.

Brendan

May 15th, 2009
9:46 am

five_hole, your post made me think about what is required from media pressure in this situation. How so? Well, the Atlanta Spirit, LLC always “claims” they have BAGS O’MONEY, but it’s just that they don’t want to spend it foolishly. I can appreciate that, as someone who also doesn’t like to waste money. But isn’t the MEDIA REQUIRED to press the Atlanta Spirit, LLC about just what constitutes foolish spending? More specifically, how can ANNNY spending be foolish, if it ultimately keeps Kovalchuk? Which, I thought, was their GOAL. More directly, how can the ownership ’stay the course’ knowing that ’staying the course’ is what WILL CAUSE Kovalchuk to leave? Which THENNNNN ought to prompt the question, “How committed is the Atlanta Spirit, LLC, really, to KEEPING Kovalchuk?” Kovalchuk has already stated, “We must get the pieces not just to make the playoffs, but to compete for the Stanley Cup.” There’s no real ambiguity there. That’s cut-n-dry.

If the AS, LLC’s response to Kovalchuk … is to “shrug,” while thinking, “That’s just not going to be our plan,” then they’ve ALREADY GIVEN UP on Kovalchuk. Think about it. Now THINK HARDER. The GM just told the beat writer, “We’re gonna keep Kovy right ’til the end, to try to keep the momentum going.” Hmmmmn. Trying to ’soften the blow’ already? That’s what that sounds like. What the GM didn’t say was, “We’re embarking on a campaign to build a roster that will BLOW YOUR HEAD OFF & KEEP KOVALCHUK. We’ve got CAP ROOM. We’ve got a plan. And this is going to be one thrill-ride of a season.” Did any of you hear Waddell say words to this effect? Did any of you hear the GM say, “No worries about a Kovy re-signing. It’s just a matter of dollars and cents now.” See, ’cause that’s what Waddell said about previous deals with Peter Bondra, Kovalchuk, and even Lehtonen. When Waddell says, “We’re just talking about dollars and cents,” it means the deal is probably gonna happen. When Waddell says, “We’re still in discussions about the player’s future in Atlanta,” that means HOSSA ALL OVER AGAIN.

Look FUBAS. If you’ve already QUIT on Kovalchuk, trade him. Don’t put us through this OBLIGATORY SEASON of ‘will he or won’t he?’ Man up. If you CANNOT DO what is required to KEEP HIM, then Trade him at the draft. What’s ONE LAME DUCK SEASON of Kovalchuk really worth? To you … or to us.

RS

May 15th, 2009
9:50 am

Kovalchuk is not going to sign anything until the Thrashers make tangible moves that he can see they are trying to improve the team, and who can blame him? Waddell can promise all he wants, but Ilya doesn’t trust the Atlanta Spirit any more than the fans do.

Brendan

May 15th, 2009
10:03 am

Hokie, your post has most piqued my curiosity. So, you’d trade both Kari and Pavelec. That’s interesting. I hadn’t thought about that. Truly, that would be a “new day” here at Blueland. What you’ve proposed could work, if Khabibulin actually came here. Maybe even along with Craig Anderson as the backup. But what’s this going to cost? Khabibulin’s been making $7 million-a-year. And if Chicago actually wins this Cup, the ‘Bulin Wall would be a 2-time Stanley Cup winner, and demand the moon and stars.

And, pretending for the moment that FUBAS hasn’t already ABANDONED Kovalchuk beyond this season, how are Khabibulin and Anderson going to fit in with Kovy’s $9+ million deal, plus Bryan Little’s future deal, along with Valabik’s next contract, and Bogosian’s future contract, and all the rest of the guys who fill out a roster. To be clear, I’m not saying your idea is bad. I’m just wondering how it would work. But it could work.

Toby

May 15th, 2009
10:11 am

Last year, the Thrash jumped on the free agent market early and came up empty. I believe their offer to Campbell was on the first day. I think the Thrash will try to strike quick again. If no star is signed by July 7th, Kovy is gone. If Kovy is not signed by Sept. 1, I hope we change our mind and look into trades and clean house on a team.

The week of June 27th (Draft) to July 7th (signing UFA’s) is going to be HUGE for the future of the Thrashers.

Russian

May 15th, 2009
10:15 am

It is kind of Crazy idea, but let’s talk about it.
We keep Kari and Pavs together. Kari is number one and Pavs is back up. They are both a young and good goalies. They will play very good to insure Number one position. Moose contract should be buy out or trade him. I heard that Managment can offer him Coach position. It is perfect for him.
Yes, we need to update team. Kovy will not sign contract with Team like 2008-2009 season. We need to have two good Forwards and one D-man. How can we get them? My CRASY IDEA is DRAFT. Trade first draft pick for good Forwards. It is possible. Tampa will do that.

Russian

May 15th, 2009
10:18 am

**to Toby**
I am agree with you.
June 27 and July 7 will be historical date for Hockey in Atlanta. If Don can do something, we will see TEAM in Atlanta. If he fail again, team will relocate to another city.

GaVaHokie

May 15th, 2009
10:25 am

Well, if the Thrashers miss the playoffs again, maybe it IS time for Kovy to go… not saying the teams failure is his fault, but the two most consistent parts of this franchise for the last 10 years have been him and Waddell… and it hasn’t been exactly easy finding guys to gel with Kovalchuk on the top line. Nobody knows what he’s gonna do from play to play, and if he’s not getting it done on his own, than the team isn’t successful… (I’m going to regret saying this, but)… it sounds a lot like Vick with the Falcons. Nobody knew what he was going to do from play to play, and if he had a bad game, the team lost. You get rid of him, you bring in Matt Ryan, and now all of the sudden all the pieces work.

BUT… Waddell is certainly done if Kovy doesn’t stay… how could he ever convince a free agent to sign here again?

GaVaHokie

May 15th, 2009
10:36 am

Brendan… it’s not going to happen. I’m just saying if it were me making the decision, I’d want a fresh start in net… one of those guys will be our starter next year, and I’m pretty certain it will be Lehtonen.

Pavelec has been a pretty demanding client so far, while Kari has been practically begging to stay in Atlanta and has been much easier to negotiate with… the choice seems obvious to me from a contractual stand-point.

Brendan

May 15th, 2009
10:39 am

Umm, forgive me for this post. But this is how I see this. The Atlanta Spirit, LLC is just like the young girl whose EPT just came back POSITIVE. She runs off to the doctor to confirm it. And she’s told, “Congratulations, Deary. You’re about six to six and a half weeks along.” Now, she can claim she’s putting on a little weight for about the next eight (8) weeks. But two months from now, it’ll be July 14th–BASTILLE DAY!!! You know, when the French peasants revolted and it was a “heads will roll” kind of day! By mid-July, the world will know that the FUBAS, aka “The Atlanta Spirit, LLC” is in a ‘family way.’ The cat, rrrrrrear, will be out of the bag. We’ll know … that things aren’t going so well with a Kovalchuk re-signing. That is, barring some explanation about Jay Grossman, Kovy’s agent, being on vacation and not returning until August 1, or thereabouts. But that “lame excuse” buys only about two (2) weeks. That’s 14 days, FUBAS. Fourteen.

So … either they construct Kovy his “dream team,” or they should trade him if he won’t buy into the “continuing building project.” Personally, I wish Kovy would get ONBOARD with the project. By 2011, this team ought to be filled with some quality draft picks. Bogosian’s already here. Bryan Little is already here. Kane/Schenn/Duchene is coming. And then there’s two more lottery drafts to go. What’s two more years to wait, with Kovy as the “centerpiece” of what will hopefully be great things to come, possibly under NEW OWNERSHIP and NEW MANAGEMENT in 2011.

But hey, we’re not Kovy. He’s been waiting since 2001. And he didn’t fail the Thrashers. The Thrashers failed him. So, I’m not going to blame him for leaving or FORCING A TRADE OUT, coming late February, or whenever the trade deadline is. Hey, that reminds me, when are the Olympics in Vancouver? That’s next season, 2010. And Kovy will surely be playing for Russia. If Kovy isn’t “healthy enough” to be traded, we’re stuck with him, like it or not. Like Minnesota with Gaborik. The way to avoid that, if the organization won’t build Kovy the team he wants, is to trade him now. Ya know, at the draft. Colorado picks third overall. But they’re not stupid. They’d want Kovy locked up. The Islanders are stupid, however. And they pick 1st overall. If we’re going to lose Kovalchuk anyway, why not collect Tavares? I’m kidding. That’s a joke. Not even the Islanders would pass on Tavares for one measely year of Kovalchuk.

Supes

May 15th, 2009
10:47 am

If the Thrashers don’t make every effort possible into signing Kovy, and making this team a playoff contending team in 2010, I will never step foot inside “Blueland” ever again.

To me (the casual hockey fan), Ilya Kovalchuck IS the Atlanta Thrashers. If they don’t put 100% into signing him and making him the cornerstone of the franchise, they can kiss their attendance goodbye (at least from casual hockey fans), who I dare say this ownership needs to win over to turn our attendance from mediocre to good.

I’m sure the hardcore fan “only cares about winning”, but I care about watching one of the TOP 5 goal scores in the NHL when I go see a Thrashers game.

Imagine the Braves trading Chipper Jones a few years back when he signed a big contract extention. Yeah, I didn’t think so!

Some GM’s just “Get it”. Don W. seems to full of double talk and empty promises. Even the casual Thrashers fan can see that. Does not inspire confidence to go attend my 6-8 home games a year (that I normally go to).

GaVaHokie

May 15th, 2009
11:03 am

Supes… it would all depend, to me, on what they used to fill the void. Assuming Waddell is gone with Kovy and somebody like Pat Quinn came in, and he was able to persuade Rick Nash (also UFA next summer) that things are gonna be different in Atlanta and they want him to be the cornerstone… I’d still attend.

Spud Webb

May 15th, 2009
11:34 am

OH sh&T. He isn’t going to sign Kovy. Read between the lines there. UGH. Man o man. We are fools. They will trade Kari, BANK on it. Save money play the kid. It’s going to happen, probably could get more for Kari. Good job Chris. This is going to be a GIANT MESS. Lord Help us. Bye Kovy.

Mike

May 15th, 2009
11:45 am

Toby: I agree, clean house on a team, what we’ll get back is going to far excede the value of our beloved Kovy and his pricetag. Thrashers doesn’t die without Kovy in the lineup, they proved that last season. Trade Kari now when his stock is high. Can’t wait for next season to start!

Nikita

May 15th, 2009
12:32 pm

Oh, I should add that I’m fine with trading any or all goalies if we do so based on acquiring an elite-level goalie to replace them. But I don’t think we have to — I think that would be a waste of negotiating time, and we really do need some other pieces.

GaVaHokie, your comments on Kovy are ones I agree with. I like Kovy, and I respect his talent. But as an asset, he’s not a standalone, and there are both benefits and costs to retaining him. The obvious cost is having to work around him. Last year, this team was all Kovy — if he had a bad night, it was over. This year the team as a whole seems to be moving toward a more comprehensive strategy — but can Kovy ever really gel with anyone well enough to be considered a team player? He’s adjusted pretty well to the JA system, but he still requires a lot of investment to make the investment in him worth it. And if JA wants to have a team consisting of four lines of equals, he’ll never be able to do that with Kovy.

There are a lot of advantages to replacing Don Waddell, particularly a well-known GM would come in with better connections. Which isn’t the same as saying Don Waddell sucks — I think he’s done o.k. with what he has at this point.

Smoothie

May 15th, 2009
12:38 pm

Supes has got a good point: failure to sign Kovy could really spell disaster for this franchise…at least in the short-term until DWad is finally fired or the ownership mess is settled. However, Thrashers fans have already been VERRRRRRRRY

Smoothie

May 15th, 2009
12:44 pm

Oooops, somehow hit the submit button by hitting the tab key instead of the Caps Lock. Silly me.

…..VERRRRRRRRRRRY patient with this organization and now patience is wearing quite thin. Kovy has averaged 42.4 goals per season since his entrance into the league. He is a point / game player with the potential to take it to an even higher level as he comes off a superb MVP performance in the World Championships in Bern. He has earned his status as a top 1o player in the league and should be paid as such.

That is just how it works in the big business of sports. While I personally fail to see the difference between 7 and 10 million dollars, the market will dictate what Kovy is worth. For the future of this franchise, I would say Kovy is definitely worth $9.5 – $10 M over at least 5 years as the captain and leader of this team in addition to his value as a Top 5 sniper and Top 10 talent in the league.

I can only hope this was DWad’s bumbling, ill-conceived way of saying to us that they will do everything in their power to re-sign Ilya and that they don’t see trading him as an option since they are so confident that they will pay him what he’s worth and convince him to stay. However, history would seem to dictate otherwise.

I might just have to uproot myself and my Thrashers allegiance and relocate wherever Kovalchuck goes should he not re-sign here. I shudder at the very thought.

Sara

May 15th, 2009
12:45 pm

Brendan when has Atlanta Spirit ever claimed to be running around with money, cause everything I’ve read is 100% the opposite. Huge losses from the teams (though notice how the arena never comes up), Seydel admitting in court he can’t meet capital calls anymore, Belkin no longer contributing his 30%. All signs point to the fact that they don’t have any money. Hence why payroll went from league maximum to league minimum. And if they are still essentially broke until a new partner with capital comes in to replace Belkin, we aren’t likely to get squat this off-season. That’s why I’ve been wanting Chris (or someone) to have a chat with the OWNERS about the off-season plans. Are they paying up for an improved roster or not?

As for Kovy, if he has even one half of a brain, he isn’t going to sign a contract until he sees how next season progresses no matter who they sign in the off-season. There are too many examples of teams bringing in a bunch of high-priced FAs only to still have the whole thing blow up in their faces. NYR, TO, Philly w/ Briere. I’d frankly be looking to see if any new additions work out, how the kids fare in their second/third seasons, how the Coach continues to adapt his strategies to improve still-leaky defensive play and poor penalty killing. I don’t think it’s a crisis if Kovy doesn’t sign this summer (though that would certainly make me do the happy dance). Now if the team starts blowing chunks next season…then I’d worry. And Kovy does not have to be Hossa 2.0. This situation is not unique and it doesn’t always lead to lockerroom malfunctions and whatnot. Nor do I expect Kovy to go at half-speed next season – he has too much pride and work ethic and genuine regard for this franchise and its fans to not give 110%. He takes his role as C seriously and he’ll lead the team in the right ways.

Trade Pavs, keep Kari.

Then wait and see what develops with the draft and FA cause as usual everyone is b*tching about stuff that hasn’t even happened yet and always expecting the worst. This blog needs a healthy dose of Zoloft or something.

Smoothie

May 15th, 2009
12:49 pm

“can Kovy ever really gel with anyone well enough to be considered a team player?”

I think Kovy just answered that question emphatically and definitively with his performance for Russia in the Worlds. Just ask Morozov and Tereschenko how they feel about his ability to be a team player. Some of his passes were just sick in that tournament and he was a team high +8 I believe along with his 5 goals and 9 assists.

GaVaHokie

May 15th, 2009
12:59 pm

Smoothie… that’s why I’d like to hear if Waddell had any discussions with Nikulin and possibly Morozov.

Thrashers27

May 15th, 2009
1:18 pm

Convince Moose to become goalie coach and keep Kari and Andrej.

Supes

May 15th, 2009
1:45 pm

Anyone that is saying the Thrashers are better off without Kovy, I have one question for you. Granted, I’m not a diehard fan like you seem to be (very knowledgeable) and I’m not trying to be a smarta&& but do 50 goal scorers grown on trees, and if so, asuming that Kovy is gone, will the Thrashers get to pluck one as “easily” as they can let him walk?

Also, put together a list of the top 5-10 goal scorers in the NHL. Ilya has to be on it. Simply put, you can’t let a player like that walk UNLESS he doesn’t want to be here. Now that completely changes the discussion. However, so far he hasn’t said he wants OUT.

Supes

May 15th, 2009
2:51 pm

If the Thrashers were going to trade Kovy, (and I hope it never happens) but let’s say they do, what kind of value can you get for a top 5 goal scorer?

Could the Isles (if they draft Tavarez), could they be willing to part with him and maybe a defensive prospect on top of that or is that too steep of a price.

The only way I can ever imagine getting equal value for Kovy is landing Tavarez and Kane (with the 4th pick), and hope they can turn this franchise around.

If you compare what we got in return for Hossa (30 goal scorer)…one player is no longer even with the team, the other is on the 3rd line…and the last one is a prospect that may never pan out. Not very PROMISING.

I’d hate to see the same thing happen with Kovy.