As we near the season’s quarter mark, who is top acquisition so far?

Your Friday morning report from Thrashers practice.

As I wait for the players to take the ice, let’s pose a question.

With Max Afinogenov’s last-minute goal to force overtime Thursday against Boston, it got me thinking: Who is the Thrashers’  best offseason acquisition? I know it’s early, but the season is nearly at the quarter pole. You can make a case for Afinogenov, Pavel Kubina or Nik Antropov.

I asked John Anderson at the post-game press conference if he thought Afinogenov was the top off-season pickup. He said he likes all the new players and added of Max:  “Certainly, he’s taking the spotlight right now. Good for him. I’m happy for him. He’s resurging his whole career.”

Interested in what you folks think.

Ilya Kovalchuk did not practice today. That has been the pattern as he returns from his broken foot, to get some days off. Line combinations remained the same except that Jim Slater moved into Kovalchuk’s spot to skate with Nik Antropov and Max Afinogenov.

67 comments Add your comment


November 20th, 2009
10:54 am

Max right now is the best but if you’re going to include any player added to this team during this past off-season, I’d say Kane is still up there. He hasn’t been scoring of late but he’s still made solid contributions on the defensive side of the puck and is a part of that stellar PK.


November 20th, 2009
10:59 am

I think Pavel Kubina has been the best addition. He’s stabilized the blueline and helped Atlanta ice a legitimate top-4 defensive corps. nearly every night. Afinogenov has been outstanding, but offensive production was not a major issue for the Thrashers last year; defense was.

Kubina isn’t spectacular, but rather methodical and steady as a blueliner. Atlanta has never had that type of veteran presence that wasn’t already over the hill on the defensive unit. He’s contributed offensively, played a physical game, and been completely responsible in his own end.

Pavel is tied with Nik Antropov for the team lead in plus/minus at +9.

While Mad Max is certainly the best deal for the Thrashers at $800k, Kubina is the best acquisition for the team. Considering the Thrashers gave up just Garnet Exelby and Colin Stuart, Pavel isn’t a bad deal in his own right.


November 20th, 2009
11:16 am

all of them have worked out amazingly thus far. if i HAD to pick just one, i’d say afinogenov


November 20th, 2009
11:21 am

If money isn’t a issue……..its Kubina by a nose over Max. My reasoning: if Kubina isn’t in our top 4 who is? X, Schubert? No thanks.


November 20th, 2009
11:22 am

goals are glamorous…Mad Max
Defense win Championships..I’ll go with Kubina.


November 20th, 2009
11:44 am

several good suggestions, here. I’ve always been a fan of max. antropov at +9, and finally off the ‘most assists w/out a goal’ list. kane at +8 and lots of pk time.

so, how much influence did rick dudley have in the acquisitions? maybe we should step off the ice to answer this one, since it is still early.


November 20th, 2009
11:45 am

I will pick Kubina too.

In regards to John Andersons quote in your recent article mentioning a gorilla running down Peachtree. I have been speculating over the meaning of this. Is it as simple that his scoring is a rare occurrence or what did he mean???

I am as dumbfounded as Kozlov. If it is a North American expression with a geographical adjustment to our location, it has managed to escape me for over 20 years.


November 20th, 2009
11:50 am

Kubina is a good addition to stabilize the defence but Max and Antro bring a lot of power fire on more than 2 units compare to last year, our first three lines can score now, it is tough to shut down three lines in the same game. Because center man is a crucial position I’ll go with Antro and maybe it will be the key to make Kovy sign a new contract.

Gib Traf

November 20th, 2009
12:04 pm

Viking – I can only think that he was referring to the expression of an “800 lb gorilla in the room” or an “elephant in the room”? I assume that with Kozlov finally scoring the gorilla left the room and was last seen running down Peachtree Street with the monkey (off Kozlov’s back) hot on his heels.

Anyway, I also pick Kubina. The Thrashers defense has been the root of the teams troubles and shoring it up was and is the only way that the team will make it into the playoffs. Kubina has been just what was needed but I also think that more improvement is still needed. My guess is that Kari will be traded at the deadline for another defenseman.


November 20th, 2009
12:06 pm

Kozlov could not score goals….so he had a “monkey on his back”….he scored a goal…now the monkey is gone…and apparently walking down the road….


November 20th, 2009
12:08 pm

Clearly its Peverley, scored no matter what line he is on, even strength, PP, SH


November 20th, 2009
12:16 pm

Thank you Gib Traf and TrueBlue. Now it makes sense.


November 20th, 2009
12:27 pm

I’m gonna say Antropov, because he’s exactly as advertised… he’s a disruptive force on the Top Line to help give Kovy time and space. Great in front of the net and along the boards… a pylon with gifted hands.

If I had to put money on a player getting progressively better as the season goes along, it would be Antropov.

Spud Webb

November 20th, 2009
12:31 pm

Kubs is my vote. Stabalizer.


November 20th, 2009
12:31 pm

My vote is Mad Max. He has really stepped us his game and I like the energy he brings to the first line and power play.

Kubina has provided a steadying influence on the blue line. That was a great trade.

Kane has great potential, but, last night the Bruins were knoicking him around quite a bit.


November 20th, 2009
12:44 pm

Great question, wrong answers. The best off-season acquisition is easy: RICK DUDLEY!


November 20th, 2009
12:54 pm

Last night, the equalizer was characteristic of how things changed. Kovy fanned on a shot and scrambled to keep the play up by spinning and sending the puck to the opposite wing. Last year, this puck would end up carried out of the zone and tossed into our empty net. This year, Max anticipated this for a scoring chance. The chemistry is finally there on the 1st line.


November 20th, 2009
1:36 pm

The best move the Trash have pulled off this year is signing Peverly. We have stability for years to come with a player who has a lot of upside. Kubina and Max are not long term solutions. Plus I think Pevs appreciates the opportunity he has been given here, he wants to be in ATL and you can’t say that about a lot of players, current and former.


November 20th, 2009
1:39 pm

Im with waffleboy RICK DUDLEY. There is no way DW would have brought all three to the organization by himself.
Although i LOVE the speed that Max brings. Even if he doesnt have the puck he has to be watched almost as closely as kovy. Mad max is a counter attack machine with his speed


November 20th, 2009
1:51 pm

Make sure plenty of Thrasher fans show up tomorrow night so it doesn’t sound like a Pittsburgh home game. Thrashers need to pick up 3 of the next 4 points.

Kubina has done a lot of good things, but his lack of foot speed scares me a bit in our pinching system. Antropov had plenty of chances in front of the net last night, but couldn’t catch a break/bounce. If he starts putting pucks in the net from the crease then this line will be as close to unstoppable as they come. As for Max, enjoy the spot light while it last, as much as I would like for him to keep this pace I just don’t think it can happen. I do like the continuous hustle he gives every shift. Kane is the one that has the most up side in the future, plenty of tools just waiting to be put to use. As long as Kovalchuk and Peaverly can keep things going, this supporting cast can surprise a lot of teams night after night.


November 20th, 2009
1:56 pm

you two beat me to it. The answer is a literal no brainer. Rick Dudley.

Close the blog.


November 20th, 2009
2:01 pm

Antropov did catch a bounce. He tipped off the puck in front of the net for the first Atlanta goal.

[...] of the Atlanta Journal Constitution asked Thrashers coach John Anderson who has been the best off season acquisition for the [...]

Hockey Biltong

November 20th, 2009
2:20 pm

Long Term I think it’s Kane.
Short Term Kubina[where will he be next year?]
Biggest Suprise Mad Max!!


November 20th, 2009
2:23 pm

Definitely Kubina, he has really changed the way this D plays. He has set an example of clearing players out of the crease LEGALLY, and it is starting to rub off on everyone. Also his expertise on blocking shots while still moving is excellent as well.

The Earl of Bud

November 20th, 2009
3:02 pm

My favorite move is signing Peverley, but that technically is not an acquisition. As for an acquisition, I had a totally different answer until reading Zim & BG33Brown’s posts. It has to be Kubina. The forwards would be doing fine if you popped in Little for Max, Antro might be harder to substitute and still have 2 legit scoring lines. But Ex in our top 4? No way. And as mentioned, we always had scoring, we still have a top PP unit, it is D that has hamstrung us.

As for the Dudley comments, I don’t see the logic at all. This team has no fingerprint at all of Dudley. Antropov was added to appease Kovalchuk and get him a big Tkachuk type body in the middle. Not to mention he was a FA so it didn’t take much other than money and the chance to play with Kovalchuk to get him here. Keep in mind he didn’t get the offer he wanted from NYR.

Max had zero offers in the league and came to us on a professional tryout during training camp, not exactly what you would call a shrewd move by a GM.

That leaves Kubina as the most difficult move. But Kubina was on the block in Toronto because they had just signed or were about to sign Mike Komisarek to a big FA deal. Now figure in that Waddell and Burke are known trading partners, probably friends from USA Hockey ties, last year alone they did 2-3 trades. So Waddell goes to his old buddy and takes Kubina from him for Exelby and Stuart, Burke gets to sign Komisarek.

How exactly does Dudley figure into that?


November 20th, 2009
3:40 pm

Just kinda thrilled that the discussion is which of our moves is the best acquisition…in years past it was more often than not which was the biggest flop.

Chris Vivlamore

November 20th, 2009
4:12 pm

Nice job folks. Love the opinions/answers/passion.

Remember I’ll make my live blogging debut Sunday against the Lightning. I’ll set something up before the game and we’ll go from there. Tune in.


November 20th, 2009
4:15 pm


What’s that record again for the red jerseys? Can we get rid of the cursed things?


November 20th, 2009
4:33 pm

Kubina… for all the reasons others have listed him. He helped solidfy the d and is a great mentor. Excellent on special teams as well. Max, Antro, and Kane have all been excellent additions to the club, but if I’m choosing one guy it is Pavel Kubina.


November 20th, 2009
6:08 pm

I would say Max for sure, as to nik, I don’t see his value being what he is being paid. He looked bad last night, sitting in 117 I had a close up look at his refusal to shoot the puck. He tried stupid passes that were intercepted easily. As to Kubina, he is the quietest contributor so far, solid play on both ends of the ice…

For Nik who is big, I think it is a case that his line makes him look good. Not hard to do if you play with Kovy.

Get The Puck Out

November 20th, 2009
6:16 pm

Kubina- no doubt. He has helped a defense that was terrible and they are actually great on the PK now. He didn’t do it all but everyone has stepped up their game. Keep ‘em outta the crease and let Pavs do his job. The other additions have worked out great. They keep winning and they will come.

Best offseason pick for the Thrashers? | CTC

November 21st, 2009
12:40 am

[...] Full story here [...]


November 21st, 2009
2:12 am

I tell ya, it’s great that there’s so much debate about it. That’s the BEST thing. We’re making arguments for Finny, Kubina, Antropov, Kane, and Dudley. If there’s anything to point to, definitively, that we ARE … NOW … AT LONG LAST … moving in the right direction, it’s this blog topic, and the passionate posts beneath it.

Umm, Brendan, you didn’t make a vote. Oh yeah. Ummn, well. My first thought was Max, but I have to admit that MONEY was the impetus for that thought. Finny is the best value for the money acquisition. (Note: I have absolutely NO FREGGIN’ CLUE what Rick Dudley makes as an Associate GM, but … my guess is that Vivlamore wanted us to select A PLAYER when he made this blog.) I am surprised that Evander Kane made the team. Ohhhhh, stop. Stop RIGHT FREKKIN THERE. We’re not talking about HIS TALENT. That didn’t surprise me. What surprised me … is that this organization is beginning to operate based on HOCKEY DECISIONS rather than financial ones. Because FINANCIALLY SPEAKING, Evander Kane at 21 years old is a better value than Evander Kane at 18 years old, for the same $3.1 million cap hit. Sending him back to the WHL would be a FINANCIAL decision, for the most part. I’ll certainly listen to the argument that says, “You shouldn’t RUSH prospects. It hurts their development, and they are an injury risk at age 18, in a league full of grown men.” But Kane, like Afinogenov, is not my selection, either.

I’m impressed with Antropov. Gotta be honest here, and I always AM, but I questioned $4 million for Nik at the time of the signing. I shrugged it off by saying, “We’re Atlanta–we gotta PAY MORE. That’s just the reality.” But Antropov is earning his money. He’s close to a point-a-game type player. He’s a big body that gives us a more physical presence. I’m a bit concerned by his lack of goal production, but there’s no doubt he’s doing very well here. But Nik is also not my choice.

My choice is Pavel Kubina. At 32, he’s still in his prime years. But not for much longer. But, for now, let’s forget that this was a “salary dump” move ($5 million) by Burke in Toronto. I’m happy that he tossed his ol’ pal Waddell a bone on this one. Kubina has more than held up his end of being a “rental.” Lots of times we’ve seen these types of moves backfire. The player doesn’t want to be here. He never signed here. He’s “honoring his contract,” etc., etc. (Think Matthieu Schneider, if that helps any. And Waddell moved him at the deadline for a “net” 2nd round draft pick, for a 40-year old!) Kubina is thriving here. And maybe … just maybe … he will be here again next season. But remember, at his age, he’ll be looking for that longterm deal, out on the OPEN MARKET, at the PRICE THAT THE MARKET WILL BEAR. I would think. And it’s also Kubina’s choice where he’ll play next. If Waddell cannot come to terms with Kubina, then the organization must make a decision to either (1) ride out the season with him, in hopes of securing a playoff berth or (2) trade him at the trade deadline. If they opt for Choice #1, they can still attempt to trade Kubina at the draft, to the team he wants to play for next, so that that team can have “exclusive negotiating rights” with Kubina prior to the July 1st Free Agent Frenzy. Kubina will probably be looking for at least $4 million-a-year in his next deal. He’s making $5 million now, but every GM knows that Kubina isn’t getting any younger, and that a 4-5 year deal makes him 36-37 years old at its conclusion. But, for right now, Kubina has been the best acquisition, since defense is this team’s biggest problem. And always has been. Coupled with longterm, “stable” goaltending.

Remember back in March of 2007? Sure ya do. The beat writer then (Was it Custance or Manasso?) asked, “What was the best of Waddell’s 2007 trade deadline moves?” If I am recalling correctly, the overwhelming response was “Coburn for Zhitnik,” for Atlanta’s defense was imploding and its PP Unit was joke. The 35-year old Zhitnik provided a much needed spark on both counts. But Zhitnik still had two more years left on his deal, at $3.5 million apiece. And eventually, Zhitnik was bought out for the 2008-09, something that’s still hitting our 2009-10 cap this season. Will Kubina become the next Zhitnik, (old, overpiced, getting slower by the game) if we re-sign him? Well, even if he does, at least we didn’t give up an 8th overall pick to get him. We gave up the popular Exelby, a career 4th, 5th, 6th defender,) and a depth center in Colin Stuart. I think we can all live with that. And we didn’t have to wind up with the options of (1) enduring Exelby’s final year or (2) buying Exelby out–something that would impact, however marginally, the 2010-11 cap. I’d love it if Kubina would sign a 1-year deal with us. Kubina, at 33, doesn’t sound too bad to me. That is, depending on his price. And if re-signed, nobody lodged a double-barreled shotgun into his shortribs. That would have been HIS DECISION.

Don *(Not That One)*

November 21st, 2009
6:21 am


0-3-1 in those ugly as Red football jerseys. Just shows what you get when you let marketing people design a jersey. Burn them all now!!!

World Be Free

November 21st, 2009
7:18 am

Kubina-he’s a tank
I am still worried about the current Max reverting into the old Max at some point this season.


November 21st, 2009
9:52 am

WBF, Finny seems like a “new Max.” I think “this Max” just may be the one we see all year. Maybe that’s “wishful thinking” on my part. But time will tell. That’s why we play the games.

Hey, when was the last time anyone got a quote from Rick Dudley? He’s been eerily silent. What’s the deal, there? Maybe he’s just happy about being the “behind the scenes” guy?

The Earl of Bud

November 21st, 2009
12:30 pm

Brendan, I still don’t get the accolades for Dudley. Now I can not saying he has NOT done anything, but at the same time I can not say that he HAS done anything in terms of this current team. Since no one knows either way, who’s to say anything? Who has he specifically added that we would not have had otherwise that he would be our best acquisition? How do we know that he is “behind the scenes” or not doing something else? Enquiring minds want to know.

Besides, as already discussed, Max came here on a pro tryout, Antro was not going to be resigned by the NYR, and Waddell is trading buddies with Burke (whom we got Kubina from).

As for a “new Max”, this is the “same Max” as all along. He has always shown these flashes of brilliance. How could you say this current hot streak is any different than his previous hot streaks that this one will last unlike all the others?

Get The Puck Out – nice call on the PK being better, but I was already voting for Kubina anyway.


November 21st, 2009
4:01 pm

I can’t say it, EOB. That’s precisely why they play the games. And why I’m reserving judgement on Max until January 2, 2010. Which is fast approaching. I’m pleased with him so far. I’m even more pleased, given his salary. I’m cautiously optimistic about the future. Max “seems” to be coming out of his rut. Talk to me after he goes 20 games without scoring a goal, becomes invisible, and is tallying 4-points over those 20 games, and I’ll be right there with the Buffalo fans, saying, “Oh Gawd, MAXXXXXXXX” :roll: Especially if he starts taking stupid penalties, late in tied games. That would be VERY un-good.

On the Dudley front, I think people BELIEVE that Dudley is the force driving the turn-around. But, like you said, it’s hard to know, definitively, if that’s the case. But, as others have pointed out, since Dudley’s arrival, the Thrashers have gotten bigger, younger, and faster. These are NOT the things I think of … when I think of Don Waddell. Now, I’ll be the first to say that Waddell appears to be learning from his past mistakes. Which I find admirable. Maybe, just maybe, Waddell has a better handle on the “new NHL,” here in the 5th year of the post-Lockout. There’s only one more year left, after this, in the current CBA. The enforcement of the “new NHL” rules appears to be selectively enforced. And, in the case of the Stanley Cup Finals, was abandoned. Mysteriously.

I like our pipeline now. Within three (3) years, a lot of the talent in Chicago or Juniors or the NCAA might be here and be contributing in a meaningful way, in terms of depth players. That’s how successful teams are built. They use the draft, rather than free agency, to fill out the rest of the roster.

I’d still like to get some quotes from Rick Dudley about exactly what his role is, and what he’s done since leaving the Blackhawks and joining the Thrashers. I think his title is “Director of Player Development,” along with “Associate GM.” Years ago, the Spirit, LLC said they were going to look into a hockey advisor to assist Waddell. If that person is Rick Dudley, then I’d say Dudley is doing a good job.

Let`s Start the Season

November 21st, 2009
4:42 pm

Enter your comments here

Let`s Start the Season

November 21st, 2009
5:02 pm

For those who support Max, Antro, or Kubina, you all have made good arguments in support of your favorite newcomer. However, the case to be made here is ALL of the new faces are doing a great job. Not just any one player, but ALL have contributed. Where would we be without their efforts. Also, throw in Evander, Shubert, and Popvic, and you`ve got a fine group of newcomers. But what is pulling us down is down is a #2 line that does not contribute. White, Little, and Kozy need to pull their weight. Overall, Kudos to Waddudly for putting out a much better product this season.


November 21st, 2009
7:59 pm

only down 1, no problem

The Earl of Bud

November 21st, 2009
9:48 pm

Ugh. Better get a win tomorrow against TB. Someone besides the captain needs to step up in the enforcer role. Little might be bouncing back with this line of White and Kozzy.

Brendan, if you like our pipeline then you like the guys that Dudley had nothing to do with bringing in. Those guys were drafted over the past 3-4 years. If we are bigger, stronger, etc. then you look again at players who Dudley didn’t bring here, so I still haven’t seen a shred of evidence for Dudley changing the face of this team.

Also, I totally respect you on holding off on the Max predictions and waiting until Jan 2010. But that means you have to stop making predictions like “I think “this Max” just may be the one we see all year.” :)

Big game against Tampa tomorrow to see how this team is going to respond.


November 21st, 2009
11:00 pm

Hence, the couched remarks, “just may.” As opposed to this Max “will be” the Max we see (for the rest of the year). Now that would be a FULL-ON prediction. And say, NOT a couched remark, explaining what is possible.

This isn’t an uncommon thing, EOB. Before training camp, breaks down each team with an explanation of what they did in the offseason and what “could” happen, if things go well or badly. You see words like, “just may,” “might,” “could,” and “possibly result in.” Then, after preseason is over, and rosters are finalized, (a waiting period necessary for making an assessment,) does its actual predictions for the coming year. They list an ordered finish of teams in their respective divisions and Conferences.

I am reserving an “assessment” until Jan. 2, 2010, so as to give a reasonable amount of time to determine if this is the “same old Max” as opposed to the “this Max” we’re seing now. As in, the one who is playing with all new linemates, in a new system, with a new coach. Etc. If you followed that. Afinogenov had another goal tonight. Not that I think we can arrive at any final conclusions about Max, based on this one (1) particular evening’s game.

Kovalchuk shouldn’t have been tossed tonight. He was totally provoked from a prior infraction, that the refs overlooked. Unbelieveable. Ron MacLean, of HNIC, told Don Cherry tonight that he thought Kovalchuk was the “best pure scorer” in the NHL. Even a hair better than Ovechkin.” High praise from Ron.


November 21st, 2009
11:11 pm

EOB, my comments about the “pipeline” weren’t directed at what I think other people attribute to the turn-around. Point of fact, those pipeline players aren’t here yet, to be able to be responsible for the turn-around. The Thrashers got bigger this year. I think that people “may” BELIEVE that Dudley is responsible for that. Was it Dudley? Or was is Kovalchuk? Or was it “luck?” Kovalchuk, allegedly, supposedly, asked for Antropov. That made us bigger. Kovalchuk asked for an improved blueline. Did he specifically ask for Kubina? Shrugs. I have no earthly idea. But Waddell and Burke are friends. Burke wanted to shed payroll to make room for free agent signings, to reshape and mold the team more to his “concept.” Were the Thrashers “lucky” because Waddell and Burke are friends? Maybe. Maybe it was Dudley’s idea. Maybe it Kovy’s idea. Maybe it was straight-up Waddell’s idea. Was drafting Kane a Waddell decision? A Dudley decision? A Dan Marr/Pete Mahavolich decision? A concensus between all parties concerned? I don’t know. How does one determine the “evidence?”

The Earl of Bud

November 21st, 2009
11:16 pm

Ok Brendan that’s hilarious. Ilya Kovalchuk “just may” win the goal scoring title. But I’m not predicting anything.

Max Afinogenov “just may” go into a slump. But I didn’t say anything negative about him just now.

Rich Peverley “just may” have been a good signing. But I’m reserving judgement on that until the next year of his contract.

Wait, I can do better. The Toronto Maple Leafs “just may” get a lottery pick this year or even come in last place all together. But I’m not making a FULL-ON prediction.

John Tavares “just may” be the best pick of the last draft and win rookie of the year. But I’ll reserve my assessment on that for later.

I got it. I “just may” pick the winning lottery numbers for tonight. But I am going to wait for the Georgia Lottery Commision to have it’s numbers finalized (you know – a waiting period necessary for making an assessment).

You’re cracking me up dude.

The Earl of Bud

November 21st, 2009
11:19 pm

“I don’t know. How does one determine the “evidence?””

Brother, if you have no evidence then you cannot promote your theory to be true unless you are dealing with global warming or evolution.


November 21st, 2009
11:33 pm

And I think you finally “just may” understand.


November 21st, 2009
11:39 pm

It’s my not theory, EOB. My selection was Kubina, not Dudley. I only attempted to explain what other people might be assigning to Dudley, since you asked “why are people assigning the accolades to him? Where’s the evidence?” I replied that I think people BELIEVE that it’s Dudley’s influence that the team is bigger. But I asked, “how does one determine the evidence?” I’m certainly not there, in the offices of the Atlanta Thrashers, to know. It was other posters who advocated Dudley as the best acquisition. Ask them how they arrived at their conclusions.

The Earl of Bud

November 21st, 2009
11:42 pm

What’s that, how to use sarcasm to make my point? No, I completely understand that. :)