Waddell speaks … on the draft

I hear you folks. I haven’t gone anywhere. Just jumping between different stories during the offseason. Covered the Braves, covered Tom Glavine’s rehab start and I’ll be at the Falcons OTAs this week.

That doesn’t mean there isn’t any Thrashers coverage. Been keeping track of the Reasoner situation. Also I had a story on the draft in Tuesday’s paper from my interview with Don Waddell. I don’t see that it got posted here, so I’ll include it below.

I’ll have another story on Waddell coming soon, just not sure of the run date yet.

But in the meantime, here’s the draft story:

With the No. 4 overall pick, the Atlanta Thrashers select …
If the Thrashers keep that selection in June’s draft they will likely take one of three players: Matthew Duchene, Brayden Schenn or Evander Kane. That player may well be NHL-ready by next season.
General manager Don Waddell told the Journal-Constitution that he will take the best player available and it will likely be one of those three centers.
[Center John] Tavares and [defenseman Victor] Hedman, will go 1 through 3. They say 1 through 2 but I’m not so sure it’s not 1 through 3. Then you have Matthew Duchene, Brayden Schenn, Evander Kane. Those five guys are just a step above,” Waddell said last week. “… For our pick we are looking at one of those top five guys.”
In the first round, the Thrashers pick behind the New York Islanders, Tampa Bay and Colorado. Waddell mentioned defenseman Jared Cowan, who tore a knee ligament in February, and Swedish winger Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson as “wildcards,” but said his focus is on his list of top five players.
While most draftees are several years away from playing in the NHL, the Thrashers selected 18-year-old Zach Bogosian last year with the No. 3 overall pick. The defenseman made the Thrashers roster out of training camp and played in 47 games, missing time with a broken leg.
“I going to say picking at four, we are going to pick the best player there,” Waddell said. “As you get further in the draft, I think you start thinking more about needs. Right now we are not so deep at any position – although right now I can tell you we are not taking a goalie – where we can pass up the best player available for a player at another position. Most players in the draft … take time. Even when we drafted [Dany] Heatley, he went back to school for a year. This year there is a chance that the player we take at four could come here and make our team in training camp, but we’re not counting on that.”
This year’s draft, which Waddell labeled “great,” may include another NHL-ready player like Bogosian.
“Bogosian is off the charts with his maturity physically,” Waddell said. “He was ready to play. But if [the draftee] shows a sign that they can hold their own in this league, my tendency would be the way our team is right now, a younger team, I would let him come to our team and build with him.”
Four of the possible picks are junior players and one (Hedman) is European. By rule, all could play up to 10 games with the Thrashers at the start of the NHL season before a decision was made to send him to the minor leagues.
The Thrashers also have two second-round picks. They have the 34th overall pick and a conditional pick from Montreal obtained in the Mathieu Schneider trade. According to Waddell, the Thrashers will fill needs with those picks. He is specifically looking for big wingers.
The seven-round draft will be held June 26-27 in Montreal.

Thanks folks!

107 comments Add your comment

Andrew

May 26th, 2009
8:15 pm

First?
Take Kane.

kracker

May 26th, 2009
8:28 pm

I saw this this morning, this is great for a blog. MP-S looks out of the plans unless DW is muddying the water. I’ve been toying with dropping to 7th for Schenn and drafting Schenn.

PB

May 26th, 2009
8:33 pm

Why is Don Waddell the GM of the Thrashers? He has never demonstrated he can build/rebuild a team yet the pitiful owners continue allowing him to try. Hey Thrashers, instead of worrying about the draft pick worry about who is making the pick.

Hijacker

May 26th, 2009
8:41 pm

Stay the hell away from Schenn!!! I don’t want a player with such medicore upside.

Sage of Bluesland

May 26th, 2009
9:12 pm

Here’s to hoping that buffoonish fraud of a GM (Waddell) doesn’t keep trading down in the draft–only to bluster about “getting the player he wanted all along”…We’ve heard that song a couple of times before (with the glass-groined wunderkind Lehtonen and the overweight Bourret) all to miserable results…

But, what would you expect as we begin the tenth year of our “Five-Year Plan”–as we attempt to “build through the draft!”…

As some still continue to, inexplicably, subsidize the utter incompetence…

Wayne from AL

May 26th, 2009
9:35 pm

The guy that SHOULD be our new GM was just named new coach of the Edmonton Oilers…

LAC

May 26th, 2009
9:58 pm

waddell has no clue who to draft, he’s likely to draft RAWHIDE for goodness sake, that is how informed waddell is… HE IS NOT !

waddell is an out of control IDIOT who is intent on destroying NHL hockey in Atlanta once and for all. He is a career LOSER and if he worked for me he’d have been gone after season three,because he does NOT know what he is doing !

Why in GOD’S name is he still ruining the Atlanta Thrashers, He Needs to be FIRED asap ! OH WELL !

scottbravesfan

May 26th, 2009
11:05 pm

FIRE WADDELL!!!!!!

nfieldr

May 26th, 2009
11:31 pm

When I saw the headline “Waddell Speaks…”, my immediate thought was “Yeah but did he SAY anything?”. I haven’t read one interesting “tidbit” of information from a recent DW interview. Oh well… at least you AJC guys keep trying. :-)

Backchecking Fact Checker

May 26th, 2009
11:35 pm

Hey, Sage, (speaking of buffoonery and incompetence) we’ve traded down in the first round exactly once, and that was to pick Bourret. Lehtonen was picked exactly where we were slotted: second. Keep posting so I can keep laughing!

Brendan

May 27th, 2009
12:57 am

I think what Sage meant was that Lehtonen was slated 3rd, but Atlanta accepted the 30th pick in the 2002 draft as inducement not to take Bouwmeester 2nd overall, who was actually the “consensus” #1 overall pick. But Florida swapped draft positions with Columbus, so that the Blue Jackets could take Rick Nash 1st overall.

That’s not really ‘moving back.’ Atlanta still picked 2nd. But it didn’t go with the projected 1st or 2nd overall prospects. At that time, 2002, the Thrashers did need EVERYTHING. Really, truly. Even a goalie. But the trouble with drafting a goalie, even a high pedigree one, is the investment of time it takes to develop them.

Let’s see if the Thrashers re-sign Lehtonen or trade him. Let’s see if the Thrashers re-sign Pavelec, or trade him. If either is traded, Atlanta would be giving up a player it paid a hefty price to acquire. And with the trade market “soft” for goaltenders, I’d hope they don’t trade either one. We’ll just have to wait and see.

All we can do is hope for the best. If it’s Kane #4, that seems fairly “consensus.” If it’s Duchene, it’s a coup. If it’s MPS, I’d be surprised. But that could still work out. But if it’s MPS, Cowen, or Schenn, I think the Thrashers could have moved back a position or two and still had one of those players, to go pick up another 2nd round pick. If Waddell doesn’t hear a good enough offer at #4, he should just pick the best available player. It’s not rocket science. And if it takes a year before said player can join the team, that’s fairly “normal.” I won’t cry over that.

Justin

May 27th, 2009
2:55 am

If Duchene is on the board by the 4th which he wont be then he is a no brainer. Since the Thrashers are looking for more of a center-man I think that they will have Evander Kane in their lineup by next season.

Sage of Bluesland

May 27th, 2009
8:06 am

Is that ALL you’ve got?! Talk about humorous.

Waddell blustered about “getting the player he wanted all along” in 2002 with the glass-groined teen goalie–and made a deal with Florida to not select their prized defenseman (as Brendan elaborates on).

I wanted Nash. Our “deal” allowed Florida to deal out of the first pick and trade it to Columbus, who coveted him. Instead, our blustering idiot of a GM makes a deal with a division-rival, no less, and gets hosed in the process.

Our buffoonish GM proved to me that the “Legends of Blueland” (our allegedly ‘loaded’ minor leagues) were a mere pipedream with that very pick–as it was well known that it would be YEARS before he was up at the NHL level (remember, he had a military commitment in his home country to face, as well).

The drafting of Lehtonen was nothing but a much-needed play for time. See, we were on the other side of Donny’s first “Five-Year Plan”–and the results were incrementally pitiful.

People laughed at me then, too. I laughed when I was proven right time and again.

I’m still laughing, too. Pay attention and maybe you’ll learn something important…

GaVaHokie

May 27th, 2009
8:34 am

Oh please, Sage give me a break… go toot your horn somewhere else.

When you have the chance to draft a 6′3″ Butterfly goalie carrying these accolades, it’s hardly a stretch to draft him over a dime-a-dozen defenseman.

# Named SM-Liiga (Finland) Player of the Year, 2001-02.
# Named SM-Liiga (Finland) Goaltender of the Year, 2001-02.
# Named SM-Liiga (Finland) Playoff Most Valuable Player, 2001-02.

There are top rated defenseman in every draft class. Just in the last decade, Bouwmeester, Phaneuf, Coburn, Suter, Jack Johnson, Erik Johnson, Ryan Whitney, Cam Barker… should I go on? There are probably ten more… should I go through and count the goaltenders, or do you get my point?

Kari was supposed to be groomed in the AHL, he was thrust into the starting position with the freakish injury to Pasi Nurminen. Groin pulls set him even further back in development.

We didn’t need to sign Rick Nash… we had Heatley and Kovalchuk… we needed a defenseman and a goalie at the time… Lehtonen was an off the charts prospect in the Finnish league.

GaVaHokie

May 27th, 2009
8:47 am

I think what Sage meant was that Lehtonen was slated 3rd, but Atlanta accepted the 30th pick in the 2002 draft as inducement not to take Bouwmeester 2nd overall, who was actually the “consensus” #1 overall pick. But Florida swapped draft positions with Columbus, so that the Blue Jackets could take Rick Nash 1st overall.

Who knows who he would have really picked… I’d say he would have taken Nash, but if teams want to give you MORE draft picks when you’re already at #2 than that’s hardly a stupid deal to make… hindsight is 20-20, but that was a stupid move for Florida at the time considering Bouwmeester would never see a playoff game.

http://www.usatoday.com/sports/hockey/draft02/trades.htm

Rick Nash and Jay Bouwmeester have the same number of playoff wins as Kari Lehtonen, so what’s the argument?

GaVaHokie

May 27th, 2009
8:50 am

Let’s venture back to the 2002 draft, shall we… since Waddell is such an idiot.

http://www.usatoday.com/sports/hockey/draft02/2002-06-22-nhl-draft-side.htm

GaVaHokie

May 27th, 2009
9:03 am

Here’s some more reading for all the revisionist history writers…

http://www.usatoday.com/sports/hockey/fla/2002-06-20-draft.htm

Then there’s Lehtonen, who has shown good quickness and excellent timing. But the Panthers already have a franchise goaltender in Roberto Luongo, so there is much less of a need at that position.

Playing his first full year with Jokerit of the Finnish League, Lehtonen went 13-5-2 with four shutouts in 23 games last season. He also led all goaltenders with a 1.17 goals against average and .943 save percentage during the 2002 World Junior Championships.

“He’s a big goalie, a butterfly goalie who is 6-3 and moves like he’s 5-8,” Murray said. “And he’s so poised for his age. Nothing bothers him at all. I’ve liked a lot of goalies in my nine years of scouting, and he’s right behind Luongo as my No. 1 goalie. I think he could play next year.”

Hijacker

May 27th, 2009
9:59 am

“We didn’t need to sign Rick Nash… we had Heatley and Kovalchuk… we needed a defenseman and a goalie at the time… Lehtonen was an off the charts prospect in the Finnish league.”
———————-
That’s not a good argument. You take the best player available, regardless of current needs. Did it hurt the Habs when they took Price in 2005? Theodore was star goalie at the time, Garon was a fine backup, Halak was a top talent + Danis was another talented youngster in the system? Did it hurt the Penguins when they took Staal 2nd overall in 2006? Crosby and Malkin were already in the system. Today, the 1-2-3 punch of these three is one of the best in the league.

Back to the Thrashers and the 2002 draft, when you draft Nash, then there’s no need to acquire a LW like Kozlov.

Smoothie

May 27th, 2009
10:06 am

@ Chris Viv:

Any information regarding the supposed signing of Anssi Salmela to a 2 year extension? Still no press release but we know the Thrashers are notoriously slow on the trigger when it comes to posting actual news.

Got any scoop?

Smoothie

May 27th, 2009
10:11 am

http://tsn.ca/nhl/story/?id=280075

In other news, the Habs are out of their minds. I hope to God they do sign Komisarek to a contract worth $6 M + per season. He is a liability with his reckless play and his playoff performance proved it.

I’m also scratching my head over their decision to let Koivu dangle in the wind like this. A 37 y/o sniper over a 34 y/o centre who has been your captain for 9 years??? Huh?

I’d love to have Saku Koivu join this franchise if the price was right.

GaVaHokie

May 27th, 2009
10:33 am

Hijacker… I agree… like I said, we probably would have drafted Nash if Florida stayed put and took Bouwmeester #1… but my point was that it wasn’t a horrible choice to pick up extra picks and draft Lehtonen… the naysayers are acting like it was the worst decision in the world.

LAC

May 27th, 2009
10:43 am

Does waddell even know when and where the draft is this year ?

Darkhorse

May 27th, 2009
10:46 am

I thought Komisarek was one of the few UFA worth pursuing. The Thrashers are gonna have to overpay to get a legit top four dman or top six forward in UFA. Beyond him, I don’t see any dmen worth going after, maybe Oduya?

So Smoothie-I take it you would be against bringing him in here at something like a four year 24mil deal? I just throw that number out there because that’s around what I think it would take to get him to consider us.

Koivu would be great, but I don’t think he would give us the time of day at this point. Plus, not the young, big and tough forward DW seems to be preaching about bringing in these days.

GaVaHokie

May 27th, 2009
10:47 am

Hijacker… to further the evidence… I don’t think Columbus would have been so eager to jump ahead of us if they thought we were going to stay put with Lehtonen at #2.

Yes, it would be nice to add the best player available with Nash… but you can’t argue for making the moves Waddell did and still end up with something at a position of NEED.

Smoothie… wow, $6 million… he’s crazy.

I also don’t understand the Kovalev/Koivu situation either. I thought Kovalev would be done in Montreal after all the drama, but now they’re offering him captain?!

GaVaHokie

May 27th, 2009
10:58 am

Darkhorse… it’s a tough call, I do think Komisarek is the right guy for what we’re looking for… however, we can get 9 goals and cheap hits out of Nick Boynton for half the price. ;)

Hopefully, an offer of 4 years $20 million might be enough to get Komisarek and keep him out of reach of the cap-strapped teams.

Spud Webb

May 27th, 2009
11:02 am

Another day and another headline I hate to see! I will continue to wait to see the “Waddell FIRED”. Now would be the perfect time to do this! Almost a month till the draft, this would give a real GM some time to get things in order and actually, get this, DECIDE on a DIRECTION!!! ahahhahahah, what a concept!!!!!
PS, I hate the Penguins more than Detriot right now. UGH, Canes LAID AN EGG.

Waddel speaks ... on his resignation

May 27th, 2009
11:09 am

Give us news that we wanna hear, and we’ll line your pockets with gold.

Carolina Hurricanes' Butts

May 27th, 2009
11:11 am

Smoothie

May 27th, 2009
11:14 am

@ Darkhorse:

I would definitely pass on Komisarek no matter what the price tag to tell you the truth. After watching his dismal performance at the end of the year and in the playoffs, I think he might be the most overrated defenseman in all of hockey. And at even $4 M / year I would have a tough time welcoming him to Atlanta. I would rather we add a D-man who won’t cost more than $3 – 3.5 M per year. Let’s face it, with Hainsey tied up for 3 more years at $4.5 M, Toby’s extension and Bogey’s eventual raise to $4 – 5 M / year, we can’t afford to bring in a guy like Komisarek for even $4 M / year. Having said that, who do I like as a value player in the right age-range (26 – 30)?

1) Scuderi…31 y/o next season, but has proven his mettle, toughness and shot-blocking ability these last two SC playoff runs. While he is due for a raise, he is only making about $725 K this year!! Gasp.

2) Oduya…27 y/o Swede who would probably be a great compliment to Toby Enstrom not to mention the two could communicate easily in Swedish if necc. I love Toby and Zach together, but I’m not sure they will stay together. However, the pairings will depend on whether Ron H takes his game to a new level and challenge for top pairing minutes.

3) Seidenberg…(27 y/o) was really impressed with what I saw from him in the playoffs. Did not think he would excel like he has, but I think playing with Corvo has really helped him concentrate on what he does best. He might be a great fit with Hainsey as Ron would take on the majority of the puck handling duties. But Seidenberg can hold his own as a passer as well.

4) Montador…will be 30 y/o next year, but could be a great value pick up at $1.25 – 1.5 M / year. He will likely be a casualty of Boston’s cap issues and could be a nice insurance policy if Valabik continues to struggle in his development. Could even be a replacement for XLB if we can pick up Monty in addition to a Seidenberg or Scuderi.

5) Koistinen, Ville (27 y/o)…speaking of darkhorses, this guy could be an interesting FA signing as he was the pairing-mate of our own Anssi Salmela during the World Championships. Apparently they had good chemistry and perhaps an all Finnish pairing of Salmela and Koistinen is our 3rd pairing of the future??

Bogey / Tobbe

Hainsey / Scuderi

Salmela / Koistinen

Montador

Trade XLB for depth on our 3rd or 4th lines…a forward who can augment our PK since we are thin there.

What does everyone else think about UFA D-men. Who’s your top 5?

Backchecking Fact Checker

May 27th, 2009
11:30 am

Brendan,

Two things:

First, Lehtonen was considered to be the #2 pick by most in that draft. The Red Line Report and Hockey News among others both had him second behind Bouwmeester.

Second, if a know-it-all can’t get the simplest of facts right, it renders his credibility as … a know-it-all. There’s nothing funnier than a blowhard tooting his horn loudly and wrongly. In fact it’s usually the one tooting the loudest that’s the wrongest. Sage does little to undermine that rule of thumb in this thread.

GaVaHokie

May 27th, 2009
11:56 am

Smoothie… I like your list. Scuderi is an interesting choice, be it a boring one, but that’s good right? It means he does his job. ;)

If we’re throwing out $6 million contracts for guys like Komisarek… I’d rather see that offer go to Mattias Ohlund.

I still don’t see how NJ could let Oduya walk away, with only $39 million on the books… gotta think he’s staying in NJ.

Montador could have been had last summer and not a blurb of Thrasher interest… don’t see that changing this summer. But he is a solid, dependable defender.

One of Koistinen or Zanon is going to land somewhere else this summer… wouldn’t mind either, but not sure they’re Top 4 guys yet.

Smoothie

May 27th, 2009
12:18 pm

GVH, very true. Nothing wrong with boring if it means a D-man is getting the job done quietly and effectively. He even adds a bit of offensive pop with 16 pts in the reg season. I love his +23 though.

Here are the stat comparisons for those guys and Komisarek for the last three seasons (numbers are avgs):

1) Scuderi….77 games; 10-11 pts; +10; avg 19 mins last 2 seasons

2) Oduya…..77 games; 22 pts; +14; avg of 21 mins last 2 years

3) Seidenberg…56 games; 17-18 pts; -2 (-9 this year); 19-20 min

4) Montador….74 games; 17-18 pts; +6; avgs 15-16 mins / g

5) Koistinen….43 games (2 yrs); 14 pts; +6-7; 15 min / g…not bad for a guy who only played in half of a season; perhaps we can make Nashville pay once again for under-utilizing a guy with skill!

6) Komisarek….74 g; 16 pts; + 5; 21 min avg…he only had 11 pts this season and a +/- rating of E…certainly not worth $4-6 M in my book!

I don’t see NJ letting Oduya get away either, but who knows, perhaps Toby will give him a call and try to recruit him…that is if he can talk by now…anyone hear of any updates on our beloved Swede BTW?

Montador would be great value, but who knows why we didn’t show any interest in him last season. Perhaps DWad really thought we were deep enough defensively with Oystrick, Valabik, Kulda, Lewis & Postma in the fold. So having said that, we’ll probably be lucky to see one signing this off-season. Let’s just hope it’s a rugged, consistent Scuderi type of D-man.

Smoothie

May 27th, 2009
12:20 pm

@ Viking:

Perhaps our good Scandanavian friend can find us and translate an update on Tobbe in one of the Swedish papers. Viking, do you have anything of interest to report for us?

Brendan

May 27th, 2009
12:21 pm

Spud Webb, why do you hate the Penguins more than Detroit right now? Is this still the lingering memory of the Crosby hit on Valabik? Hossa’s not there anymore, which is the other thing I think might cause Atlanta fans to root against Pittsburgh.

I must credit Pittsburgh for playing its finest hockey at the most critically important time of the year. I wish them much luck, moving forward.

Hokie, thanks for the link to the 2002 draft day trades. I’ve been wanting to check that out for a long time. I had forgotten about NJ’s deal for Langenbrunner and Nieunwendyk at that draft. A few years later, Lamoriello pulled off a coup to move up and get Zack Parise. I like Lou. The Devils nearly won that series with Carolina. It’ll be interesting to see what NJ’s plan is at the draft.

In regards to Lehtonen, I certainly think he was the top-rated goalie prospect of the 2002 draft. But I wouldn’t, necessarily, look at the number of playoff wins a player has. Hockey is a team game. And the player certainly can’t control the mismanagement of the team that drafts him. I don’t blame Rick Nash for the Blue Jackets not making the playoff until 2009. I don’t blame Bouwmeester for Florida never making the playoffs. Bouwmeester didn’t trade Luongo. And so forth. Instead, I look at the player for who they are and what they contribute to their team. Rick Nash has had his fair share of injuries, same as Lehtonen. But there’s no doubt in my mind that Nash is a quality power forward. Let’s see if Columbus GM Scott Howson can lock him up this Summer, or face the consequences of a “dark cloud of uncertainty” hanging over what should otherwise be another playoff season for Columbus. If they can’t re-sign Nash, it might derail their efforts to get back to the playoffs.

I don’t blame Bouwmeester for wanting out of Florida. Though, I’ll say that the team is better now than it’s ever been. They tied with Montreal for 8th spot, identical record, but lost out on the tie-breaker. Bummer for them. On multiple levels. I’m sure they’d rather re-sign Bouwmeester than merely to reclaim his cap hit, to go spend in free agency.

For some, the best goaltender of the 2002 Draft is Cam Ward, the 2006 Conn Smythe Trophy winner. But, in fairness, did Cam Ward manage the ‘Canes roster? Or did Jim Rutherford do that? That’s why he has more playoff wins than Lehtonen. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again. Kari is NOT a bad goalie. Like ANY goalie, he’d benefit from a better defensive corps in front of him. If Kari played for the Red Wings, he’d win 45 games a year, I’m guessing. He doesn’t suck, in my opinion. But his selection with that #2 overall pick means, “we’ll sink or swim with Kari Lehtonen.” And there it’s been. It is rather unfortunate about the recurring groin injuries and back problems. I’m sure its a sore subject with him, as well. I don’t think Pavelec is ready yet. So, ifffffffff the ‘real plan’ is to make the playoff this year, and not sayyyyy, be YEAR THREE of the ‘4-year building project,’ then Kari must stay and Pavelec be the one who is dealt–that is if a goalie trade is imminent. If the ‘building project’ is still on, then Kari can be dealt while the team takes its lumps with Pavelec. I don’t advocate that approach, at all. If Pavelec isn’t ready, (he’s only 21 or 22,) then he should remain in the AHL, to be properly developed, like any goalie should. Folks, goalies take TIME to develop. Maybe moreso than any other position. It’s a mistake to rush them into the NHL before they’re ready. Which is why I harp on the 2002 draft. It’s not so much that they took Lehtonen, as opposed to say, Cam Ward, it’s that investment of time that I so veheminently opposed. Truthfully, and I said this thennnn, we could pluck a goaltender from Free Agency in 2002 or 2003. Plenty were available. Yes, at a PREMIUM COST. Well, things cost what they do. You can’t walk into Porsche Dealership with $19,000 and think you’re walking out with a brand new car. That’s more like the downpayment. Khabibulin, Curtis Joseph, Ed Belfour, Dominik Hasek, Arturs Irbe, and Miikka Kiprussoff were all available about that time frame. I won’t list Evgeni Nabokov, as that summons the “no he wasn’t available” crowd from out from the shadows. Fiiine. The point is, for the ‘market value,’ one of those goalies could have and probably would have been signed by Atlanta. In the case of Curtis Joseph, his team, the Red Wings, put him on waivers. Atlanta could have claimed him, and unfortunately his $8 million salary at the time, for nothing but the cost of his contract, which still had two more years left on it. Would Cujo have been ’stoked’ to play in Atlanta??? Uhhh, probably not. But hey, he was waived by Detroit. Thems the breaks. In 2002, Atlanta still had Heatley and Kovalchuk and Kozlov and Ferraro. It might not have been so bad with Cujo in net. I think Joseph was still in the league this season, in some capacity or other. Atlanta might have even re-signed him. But let’s not focus on Joseph. He was only an example of what was out there, instead of putting all our eggs in the Lehtonen basket, at the 2002 Draft.

Look folks, I’m sorry if this subject is an unpleasant one. It can’t be undone. And Kari really isn’t a bad goalie. I hope we keep him, especially after the investment we made in him. It’d be niiiiice, after all this time, to see it bear fruit. Waddell told us that Kari was the kind of goaltender who could steal a playoff series. Answering truthfully now, would the 2007 roster of the Atlanta Thrashers really have given Lehtonen the chance to “steal” that series? This is where there will be debate. Some will say, “yes,” and others, “no.”

GaVaHokie

May 27th, 2009
12:37 pm

Waddell speaks even more about the draft… here is the latest article on the Scouting Combine from NHL.com… Waddell on Victor Hedman.

http://www.nhl.com/ice/news.htm?id=423887

Darkhorse

May 27th, 2009
12:44 pm

Decent list Smoothie, but that’s the problem, what’s out there is just OK. Is the price of the few who are worth longer contract offers gonna see their value skyrocket because of a bidding war between teams? I have no problem seeing Oduya here at the right price. Would he fit well into Anderson’s type of system? Koistinen is a quality idea, but agree with Hokie he’s not shown top 4 worthy minutes yet. Maybe he and Salmela will develop into top 4 guys, but that’s too hard to predict at this point. I do agree it’s time to trade Ex as part of a deal just to part ways and open up a roster spot for a solid 5,6, or 7 stay at home type vet to bring here, in addition to trying to find a legit top 4.

I get the feeling DW will try a similar tactic to last season. The UFA list, both dmen and forwards, is not overwhelmingly great. There are a few guys that fit the top tier bill for what we are looking for. I think DW will try to sign one big contract, ala Campbell, starting July 1st. Now whether that’s a forward or dman I’m not sure. I see him trying to address one of those through a trade around the draft. Whatever he accomplishes, if anything, through trade, he’ll spend his budget money on the other need come July 1st.

Not trying to sway from the dman and draft talk, but do you guys think DW would try to go after the Sedins IF he’s able to address the D around the draft? Would cost alot of loonies to pry them out of Canuckville, but it seemingly addresses the top center and RW on paper.

GaVaHokie

May 27th, 2009
12:47 pm

Brendan… in 2005, when Lehtonen came back in December from his groin injury, he played great and the team stormed into 1st in the Southeast by February. He can be a very impactful player when healthy and playing at the top of his game… I’d be nervous about letting him go at just age 25.

GaVaHokie

May 27th, 2009
12:54 pm

Let’s go back to something else we glossed over from yesterday… the Satellite Hot Stove segment… if Waddell did indeed meet with Kovalchuk last week and the “meeting went well”… what exactly was shared? Certainly Waddell had to let Kovy in on his strategy for this summer.

I gotta think there is something more concrete than “we’re gonna go after Cammalleri” or “we’re gonna pursue Havlat”. Could there be something more substantial like “we’re going to trade the #1 pick to Ottawa for Jason Spezza, it’s all but certain. What do you think of that Kovy?”

or…

“We talked to Antropov’s agent and he seems pretty gung-ho about playing on a top line with you.”

GaVaHokie

May 27th, 2009
1:08 pm

Oh, nevermind… according to Eklund’s latest rumor, Kovalchuk is going to Washington to play with Ovechkin. ;)

Frosty the snowman

May 27th, 2009
1:24 pm

*** in 2005, when Lehtonen came back in December from his groin injury, he played great and the team stormed into 1st in the Southeast by February. He can be a very impactful player when healthy and playing at the top of his game… I’d be nervous about letting him go at just age 25.***

He can also be one of the softest goalies, and implode for several games. Not mentally tough. I would say Kari is average, not a franchise goaltender.

Frosty the snowman

May 27th, 2009
1:30 pm

***Let’s go back to something else we glossed over from yesterday… the Satellite Hot Stove segment… if Waddell did indeed meet with Kovalchuk last week and the “meeting went well”… what exactly was shared? Certainly Waddell had to let Kovy in on his strategy for this summer.***

Wadell stated several times that the talks with Hossa were going well, we know how that ended! You can’t believe what Wadell say’s, he is trying to keep everthing under a blanket. When Kovy leaves Wadell will blast him and blame Kovy for bieng some sort of problem

polskidawg

May 27th, 2009
1:37 pm

Personally, if he’s a player, I think Kane would be an excellent choice for several reasons – 1) power forward who crashes the net, 2) physical player who can help with offensive zone time, 3) seems mature, like Bogosian, thus less likely to be overwhelmed by the NHL, 4) has the desire to be a role model for other young, black hockey players, especially in a “non-traditional” hockey market like Atlanta, and 5) would provide obvious marketing benefits for the Thrashers.

Smoothie – interesting possibilities, but I’d love to see Grant Lewis make the jump and secure a top 4 spot this season. Let’s get young and mediocre rather than middle-aged and mediocre. Better upside.

Brendan

May 27th, 2009
1:44 pm

See, I agree with you, Hokie. When Kari is healthy, and the team is playing well in front of him, he’s a very good goalie. That’s why I advocate keeping him, as opposed to trading him. Bob Hartley played Kari a lot of games in a row. I have no doubt, physically, that Kari can handle that. It’s his “mental state” that I worry about. his 34 wins in 2006 speak to what Kari is capable of.

Again, I think a lot of Kari’s “focus issues” could be improved with a better defensive corps and a rotation that actually works for him. I like the idea of having Pavelec be the backup. I like Lethonen-Pavelec as a “1-2 punch” moving forward. But, if Ondrej isn’t ready yet, then he isn’t ready yet. And if you’re a trading partner, why do you want to part with something good to get a goalie who isn’t ready yet? Okay, thinking towards the future, I suppose. I just don’t think that goalie trade market is something to write home about. If we must lose a goalie, I vote for Hedberg, for the return of a 6th round pick. I just don’t think that a goalie should be traded. The truth is, our team, historically, has unhealthy goalies. And there it is. We need them all.

If Kovalchuk had a “good meeting” with Waddell, my guess is Don said, “We know what your demands are. Recognize them. And will do our utmost to meet them.” What that actually means is anyone’s guess. Those are words, not signed contracts. Kovalchuk, if he truly wanted to toss this team a bone, would sign a 1-year deal just to end the speculation about a trade at the draft or the 2010 trade deadline. It would buy the team another year, no questions asked. It would also help lure free agents here, knowing that #17 will still be here for the 2010-11 season, at a minimum.

Spud Webb

May 27th, 2009
2:00 pm

Smoothie, great information, good job.

Brendan, I just hate that they cry so much, which is why I hate them more than the wings. At this point I really don’t want either team to win!!! Cmon Hawks, do the improbable!!!! ahahhahaha

GaVaHokie

May 27th, 2009
2:08 pm

Brendan…

Those are words, not signed contracts. Kovalchuk, if he truly wanted to toss this team a bone, would sign a 1-year deal just to end the speculation about a trade at the draft or the 2010 trade deadline.

Which is why I think there is something more concrete… why would Cammalleri or Havlat sign with Atlanta with no Kovalchuk under contract? It’s a “cart before the horse” situation… “I’ll sign if you get me better players”… well, no better players are gonna sign if YOU’RE not under contract… if you want Kovalchuk, you’re almost forced to make a hockey trade for a contract player, because you’re not going to lure any UFA’s with Kovy on a “wait and see” basis.

I think Waddell has a pretty substantial list of things that “could happen” that he shared with Kovalchuk, wither it’s discussions he had with European players during the World’s or early Draft Day options that are lining up… or even revisiting the trade offers he got for Lehtonen and Pavelec at the deadline.

I think it’s plausible that he sat down with Kovalchuk… his Captain… and said, which of these options do you think are good for the team, and what would make you want to stay?

Smoothie

May 27th, 2009
2:11 pm

@ darkhorse & GVH: I couldn’t agree more about the UFA talent pool being just okay. I would love to have Oduya, but I don’t think he really fits our greatest need on the blueline. If he were to sign and our pairs were say, Bogey & Tobbe and a 2nd pair of Ronsey & Oduya, then we would still be a bit undersized although we would certainly be quite dynamic. Especially with a 3rd pairing of say Salmela and Lewis. Talk about a very capable group of puck-movers.

But alas, we need toughness and grit and shot-blocking. Where can we get it without over-spending on the free-agent market? If you recall, DWad said in his last interview (by Ben Wright) that the UFA pool was only going to get deeper and deeper as things cycle forward. If you read between the lines, he may very well be thinking his best option is to pry loose a top line forward with a trade of a draft pick (one of the 2nd rounders?) and a D-man like XLB who could fill a void on a salary cap strapped team needing 3rd pairing minutes. I would hate to see DWad trade that #4 pick (unless he could turn it into Spezza or someone of that ilk) as I think Kane could be the type of player we need here going forward.

My guess is that he will explore trade possibilities, but likely draft Kane # 4 to bolster our Top 9 for 2010-11. Then he’ll likely use one of the 2nd round picks, a prospect and perhaps one of our D-men like XLB or Valabik or a goaltender as trade bait to get a Top 6 forward from a team like Philly, Boston, Calgary or even Detroit. Problem is I don’t think we have enough return value to get a bona fide Top 6 guy.

I would prefer we keep both goalies, try to trade Valabik, XLB or Wilson for depth on the 3rd and 4th lines, go after Havlat to play with Kovy (if we’re going to throw money at someone, that’s my top choice), sign a guy like Mikeal Samuelsson or even a Jiri Hudler to augment your 2nd and 3rd lines, and then sign one of the D-men I listed above if you can get one for less than $3 M / season.

Kovy — Peverley — Havlat

Kozzy — White — Little

Stuart — Reasy — Hudler

Depth guy via trade — Slater — Crabber

Z-Bo & Enstromboli

Hainsey & Seidenberg

Salmela & Valabik

Lehts / Pavy / Moose

I think we could do this for $46-47 M and stay right where the ASG wants to be going into this season. It could be enough to entice Kovy to sign a 2 year deal with the promise of more transactions to come when Kozzy’s money comes off the books and one of our goalies, ahem Pavelec, has more trade value the following season. Kane should be ready and you’ll know if Peverley is worth keeping as a Top 6 guy. The problem could be what to do with Todd White if his production really drops off from his career high next season.

GaVaHokie

May 27th, 2009
2:11 pm

Brendan… I just don’t think Waddell would drag Kovalchuk away from the French Riviera for a pep talk.

GaVaHokie

May 27th, 2009
2:15 pm

Smoothie… don’t you hate it when you put a list like that together and forget Colby Armstrong? ;)

Smoothie

May 27th, 2009
2:19 pm

@ polkisdawg: I liked what I saw from Lewis a lot when he was called up. However, didn’t he have his knee-cap shattered by a puck when he went back to CHI? Not sure if he’ll be ready in time to make a serious run at a job at training camp. But I can see him as a 7th or 8th D-man who gets called up when someone gets injured.

@ Spud Webb: thanks man! As you can tell, I sometimes have too much time on my hands. I’m working on compiling a Top 15 or 20 UFA’s in a spreadsheet. When I’m done, I’ll share my rankings based on area of need, which are Top 4 D-man, Top 6 W and a depth forward.

Smoothie

May 27th, 2009
2:21 pm

Oh Jeebus Crabapples!! Wooops! And I love Army to death. Makes that 3rd line look even better if you move Hudler over to LW and put Army back on it. Then you can move Stewie down as your 4th line PK specialist along with Crabber or Boulton depending on the opponent.

I thought it felt like I was overlooking somebody!! Thanks!