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

World Be Free

May 19th, 2009
8:49 pm

Now Bob, why do you think Brian Campbell is so good?

Campbell is a great skater and offensive threat rushing the puck and
QB-ing the power play. Other than that, what does he bring for $56 Mil?

He’s not big enough to play physical, aside from the RJ Umberger hit 3 years ago. He is the 3rd best defenseman on the Hawks.

Seabrooke and Duncan Keith are much better. They both kill penalties and play against the opponent’s top lines AND they play the power play.
You will not see Campbell on the ice with a minite left in a game when Chicago is ahead by one goal. It’s always Seabrooke and Keith or someone other than Brian Campbell. It was the same way n Buffalo and the Sabres don’t have a tandum like Seabrooke and Keith.

As stated before, Campbell is making Lidstrom money. And he ain’t no Niclas Lidstrom. He’s more like a younger Brian Rafalski.

Even the folks in Chicago are starting to wonder why the Hawks tied up so much money on a defenseman that does not have the total defensive package.

Sage of Bluesland

May 19th, 2009
8:54 pm

Laughing at the silly sheep…Someone said that the reason the folks in sections have disappeared is because they are all on “business trips”???!!!

My, that’s rich. I guess that’s where I’ve been: on a business trip. Yeah, that works.

Kovy’s getting the moving company rep out to his house to estimate how many trucks it will take to move his stuff…He will join the ghost of Damian Rhodes as yet another Don Waddell blustering mistake.

Join the club–it’s a large one and getting larger…

Enjoy the rate hike–I think I’ll be on a “business trip”…

Alan

May 20th, 2009
10:57 am

You will not see Campbell on the ice with a minite left in a game when Chicago is ahead by one goal.

However, seeing him five minutes into OT make that beautiful pass to Hudler is fine by me. According to him, he would make that play a hundred more times.

I.C. Wiener

May 20th, 2009
2:19 pm

As much as I love the Thrashers, if they let Kovy get away, I’ll have to do some soul-searching before I can support the team again. Talk about a kick in the crotch!

Tom

May 20th, 2009
3:47 pm

Dumb question, but one that needs to be asked for perspective.

If Waddell was the GM of a New York team (Rangers, Devils, or Islanders) would he survive the treatment by the press in those cities?

Growing up on Long Island my bet is that he would have been savaged starting with his first draft. The lack of accountability by the local paper has partially allowed the mess we are in today. I am not blaming the beat writers, they have to go in the locker room every day and are there to report, only. But the opinion guys have been absolutely useless on holding Waddell’s feet to the fire. There have been only a handful of opinion pieces on the team all year, and hard hitting investigative reporting they have not been at all.

ranallo10 (in AT)

May 20th, 2009
4:18 pm

Tom — With the AJC being the only major publication in the city of Atlanta, I think it’s easy to assume the media pressure would’ve been exponentially higher had Waddell been a GM in a different city.

There are opinion writers here who have held Waddell to the coals, but when the local paper has little to no influence on the public perception of hockey, I don’t anticipate much change being made by Schultz’s op-ed pieces. And as you said, the beat writer shouldn’t be the person asking the “tough” questions and holding the management accountable from the media side of things.

Such is life when your city only has one large newspaper and a population who cares more about basketball, baseball, and college football than they do about hockey. There seems to be no market for the media to appease by doing NHL pieces, so they don’t (for the most part).

World Be Free

May 20th, 2009
8:00 pm

Brian Campbell got tired. He decided to take a nap in the middle of overtime, must have become dizzy from one too many spin-o-rammas. Instead of Chicago possibly being tied in the series 1-1, it’s 2-ZIPP Detroit .

As Bob would say, LOL

From The Buffalo News today-

Brian Campbell might not want to turn on the television, open a paper or peruse the Internet today. He’s all over all of them, and it isn’t pretty.

The Blackhawks defenseman had a game-losing giveaway Tuesday night as Chicago lost to Detroit, 3-2, in overtime. The setback dropped Chicago into a 2-0 hole in the Western Conference finals, and many are saying the series is over.

Campbell is definitely wearing the goat outfit. He turned the puck over at the Detroit blue line with a backhand attempt, and the Red Wings responded with a three-on-one rush that goalie Nikolai Khabibulin had no chance of stopping.

ESPN is running clips of Campbell ’s “Big Mistakes.” The lowlights start with his penalty late in Game Seven of the 2006 Eastern Conference finals, when he shot the puck over the glass for the Sabres; Carolina scored the game-winner on the power play. The next clip is a penalty he took in the fourth overtime last season with San Jose , and Dallas eliminated the Sharks on the power play. Those plays are followed by Tuesday’s gaffe.

“On the goal there I’ll do that play a hundred more times,” Campbell said in the Chicago Tribune

Bob

May 20th, 2009
8:40 pm

“Now Bob, why do you think Brian Campbell is so good?”

Because it takes real talent to turn the puck over like that and give the game away.

He screwed up big time (understatement of the year) but he’s not the 3rd best dman on the club, he’s the best dman they’ve got, he’s just not a defensive shutdown type which is why he’s not there in those situations you’re looking at.

But that was pretty damn ironic that he blows the game right after I give you crap about him, lol indeed.

World Be Free

May 20th, 2009
9:17 pm

Yo Bob-truth be told, I am a Sabres fan too. I died when the gave up Campbell basically for nothing, along with Briere and Drury. All 3 are all overpaid, but they are also playmakers.

I just don’t see giving a one dimensional defenseman that kind of money. A $56M D-man should play 28-30 minutes / game every game.

FYI-Thrashers come first over Sabres

ranallo10 (in AT)

May 20th, 2009
9:30 pm

Not to nit picks, but I would say that Duncan Keith is the better defender simply because he’s a more rounded defender and still possesses offensive abilities as a defenseman. To give a closer to home comparison, it’s like Enstrom vs. Bogosian…one is the more rounded defender (Bogosian), while the other is a defensively capable offensive defenseman. Both are good in their own right.

If I had to choose between Campbell or Keith, I’d choose Keith based on how I’ve seen them both play, and what they both bring to the table as defenders. Chicago having both, combined with Seabrook and Barker, is a solid top 4 with plenty of years for further development.

Gov Sonny

May 21st, 2009
4:22 pm

Go Thrashers!

hockeyman3944

May 25th, 2009
6:40 am

There’s a reason Don Fraudell was named the worst GM in hockey, mates…he’s a puppet for a bumbling, clueless “group” of owners, (a group of owners mind you…whatever happened to a tough singular owner?), that couldn’t run a car wash let alone a sports franchise! They are underdunded and saw this as an opportunity to get into the big leagues and have some fun, kinda like owning a race horse. But, a race horse has to be fed, watered and taken care of once you buy it. OOOPS! Forgot about the fed and watering part huh? And Teflon Don is their stooge, himself nearly as brain dead as those dithering idiots. These two are collectively running hockey out of ATL, and its a shame because there are a nice group of dedicated fans here that will be spending fewer and fewer $$ to see admittedly overpriced entertainment, with a non-competitive team in an ailing economy. Nice work guys, you’ve really got your fingers on the pulse of the Thrashers! ATL fans are perhaps the worst in sports generally…front runners and band wagon jumpers, but these guys absolutely don’t help a great sport that unfortunately is relegated to a cult sport…a darned shame!!

Tickle Me Selma

May 25th, 2009
8:54 pm

No updates from the beat writer in a while? That bodes poorly. I guess there are better things to do.

Brendan

May 26th, 2009
12:18 pm

No, Vivlamore has a story cookin’. It just hasn’t come out yet.

Alan

May 26th, 2009
6:09 pm

Any coverage of the draft combine?

Please throw us a bone here, Chris.

Tickle Me Selma

May 26th, 2009
9:57 pm

One story, huh? Pinch me. Well, it’s not like there’s anything going on in the hockey world these days. Typical AJC.

I stopped my paper subscription to the AJC the day I hooked up to the internets in the early nineties and found real hockey coverage. The only reason I poke my head around here is for the comments, which are often way more informative and intelligent than the coverage this paper has historically given the game.