Highlights from interview with Don Waddell

As we get ready for Thrashers optional practice Sunday morning following last night’s win over Philadelphia, here are some of the highlights from my interview with GM Don Waddell following the first period.

1. As I first posted last night, prospect Angelo Esposito is out for the season after tearing the ACL in his right knee for the second time.

Here is what Waddell said on that: “We are going to fly him in [Sunday]. He’ll get re-examined by our doctors here this week and we’ll go from there. I’m very, very disappointed for the kid.”

2. As I also first posted last night, Boris Valabik will return from his rehab stint in Chicago on Monday.

“His two weeks down there are up this weekend,” Waddell said. “He’s played well down there. He’ll come back here on Monday.”

When I asked if the Thrashers planned to carry 23 players once Valabik returned, Waddell said: “We’ll see. I will initially. We’ll see after that.”

3. Waddell on the on-going contract talks with Ilya Kovalchuk: “No update. The last conversation we had involved term. What’s a long-term [deal] mean? Describe long term. That’s our discussion right now. Once we nail term down, we’ll get to the salary.”

I asked if it was true that once the season was underway, Kovalchuk told his agent to start real negotiations. Waddell said: “Into the season, once he got a good feel, after we played 10, 12, 15 games he told his agent see what kind of contract we can get.”

Waddell also said there are currently no negotiations with other players.

4. Update on Kari Lehtonen: “Not close to being on the ice. He’s in the gym here. Everything is going well.”

Those are the newsworthy highlights.

The players on the ice for the optional skate are: Chris Thorburn, Eric Boulton, Jim Slater, Evander Kane, Anssi Salmela, Colby Armstrong and Ondrej Pavelec. Noah Welch, who continues to rehab from offseason knee surgery, is skating as well.

67 comments Add your comment

Dwayne

November 30th, 2009
1:25 pm

Where is she?

Alan R.

November 30th, 2009
2:04 pm

Gotta spay the kitties tonite!

I laughed so hard at this line.

Diego from Lilburn

November 30th, 2009
2:16 pm

I’ll break this up into one part for team stats and one for individuals..

Here is what’s going right for the Thrashers this season (in case you like stats collected from AJC sources (Thanks Chris!) and NHL.com) –

Thrashers are 1st in NHL in total Goals for per Game with 3.4
Thrashers are 1st in NHL in 3rd period goals
Thrashers are 1st in NHL when scoring first (only team to have a perfect 100%)
Thrashers are tied for 1st when leading after 1st period
Thrashers are tied for 1st when leading after 2nd period

Thrashers are 4th in +/-

Thrashers are 2nd in Penalty Killing

Thrashers are 7th in Power Play Goals

Thrashers are 8th in NHL in road goals

Thrashers are 10th in NHL in home goals

The Thrashers have recorded points in nine of their last 10 games (7-1-2) – 16 points total out of possible 20!

.964 save percentage in last three games.

1st shutout of detroit since last season in April.

Broke the Flyers curse.

Diego from Lilburn

November 30th, 2009
2:18 pm

Here is what else is going right for the Thrashers this season…

Moose is 2nd in the NHL with a .932 save percentage

Pavs is tied for 8th with a .921 percentage.

Kovy is 4th in the NHL in shot to goal % at 24.1%
Kovy is tied for 4th in the NHL in Power Play goals
Kovy is tied for 6th in NHL in goals total
Kovy is tied for 6th in NHL in goals on the road

Pavel Kubina’s +/- ratio is 3rd in the NHL
Nik Antropov’s +/- ratio is tied for 5th in the NHL
Toby Enstrom’s +/- ratio is tied for 7th in the NHL

Nik Antropov is tied for 6th in NHL for assists

Rich Peverley is 5th in the NHL in faceoffs

Dwayne

November 30th, 2009
2:39 pm

Pev’s is first in game winning goals.

Diego from Lilburn

November 30th, 2009
2:40 pm

I didn’t intend to slight the offensive talent of our defense, just ran out of time to collect stats. Those are a little tougher to sort out.

Diego from Lilburn

November 30th, 2009
2:42 pm

Thanks, Dwayne! I forgot that little nugget as well!

The Earl of Bud

November 30th, 2009
2:56 pm

Diego & Dwayne, nice, but you guys missed another one. Evander Kane is 2nd in goals among rookies.

MB

November 30th, 2009
3:06 pm

In addition, Diego…

Thrashers are tied for 4th in faceoff % – surprising, eh?
Have the 2nd fewest missed shots (one more than NJ)
Are 2nd to last in hits (ahead of Buffalo, nearly doubled by league-leader Pittsburgh 384-752)
Are 2nd in takeaways – though we know this is a relatively subjective stat, still better to be on the good side
Middle of the pack in giveaways and 4th from the bottom in blocked shots

Fewest missed shots is indicative, in part at least, to my belief that we too often hold for the “perfect” shot instead of getting off shots when we have opportunities. Hard to argue with our league-leading goals for, but we have all seen instances when seemingly innocent shots turn into good chances and even goals.

Would definitely like to see improvements in hits and blocked shots…to me those go towards how tough a team is to play against and will show themselves as more of a weakness as the season progresses and play tightens. The games against Pittsburgh and Boston indicated to me that we’re vulnerable to getting thrown off our game against teams who play a more physical style of play.

Moving on, we have a great opportunity to move into December with a full head of steam with the next four games against Florida (x2), the Isles, and the Leafs. Make some hay ahead of tougher games throughout the month.

Hopefully we see a different Kovy than we did against the Flyers. The foot really seemed to be bothering him Saturday night. He only took two shots when he clearly was in position to take another half dozen, at least. Wondering if he’s having trouble planting with the foot. Hate to say it, but I’d rather see him take a game off rather than play at that much of a deficit.

Smoothie

November 30th, 2009
3:16 pm

Diego – thanks for the support…I do hope I am right about tonite.

Alan R – glad you liked that “spay the kitties” comment…I may need to update my blog with a quick blurb and picture playing on that theme.

MB – here, here on Kovy not being 100% and actually playing worse because of the foot. I think you are absolutely spot on regarding the pain when he plants for shots. In fact, I think it is disrupting his timing and interfering with the synapses from his brain to his hands as he has been coughing up the puck a lot when he’s “dribbling” the puck or doing his dipsy-doo-trick-a-roos!!

Perhaps we can afford to bench him for a couple of games AFTER we win the next 4 in a row. Really, if we hope to be a truly elite team, and validate our Top 4 TSN power ranking, then we need to clean the ice with these next 4 opponents, um, I mean victims. Let’s go Thrashers!!

The Earl of Bud

November 30th, 2009
3:34 pm

Don’t underestimate the Isles, they are playing well with solid goaltending & are only 2 points behind us in the playoff chase.

alex

November 30th, 2009
3:43 pm

are the thrashers smartest organization in league? why ovy, krosby, malkin, nash, lecavalier, st louis, yzerman, franzen, ets. got there contracts timely. i heard interview with head coach blue jarckets. he said ” unlike thrashers we wanted nash been sign in appropriate time.” i don’t belive kovy delayed. he want to be here 100% sure. why he is playing with not healthy leg if he want out. is he insane to be so risky. problem, DW and bosses, clearly the wanted kovy, but cheap. for exsemple 5 years 40 mil. not going to happen. they don’t understand this team with one big losing streak to be out of playoff picture
again. because players communicate with each other and (specially if nobody understand there language) ok go get camaleri from habs. get him out good luck. on last hossa deal only army left. check his production compare to hossa. not even close. maybe i am mad, but i am scared that suddenly production from kovy, max. antro and kozzy could be dropped if this ordeal not be solved ASAP.

Diego from Lilburn

November 30th, 2009
3:52 pm

smoothie, do you mind posting a link to your blog?

EoB – how did I forget Kane! I think potential “rookie of the year” as long as we make it out of the first round of playoffs. (Give us another prophecy, Smoothie!)

MB – I agree about both the anemic hitting and waiting for perfect shots. They really need to pick it up on both fronts.

Speaking of hitting, Allan Muir had some rather uncharitable comments about our old buddy Exelby in his Inside the NHL article from friday at sportsillustrated.cnn.com. This comment was harsh… “The gritty, if sparsely-talented Exelby has played in just 12 of the Maple Leafs’ first 23 games, and with only one fight and a -6 rating to his credit, he’s likely to become a near permanent resident of the Foster Hewitt Gondola at the Air Canada Centre when Mike Komisarek returns to the lineup next week.” ouch. I’m guessing they call their press box a “gondola”. :)

He does call Kubina the “steal of the year” and I won’t argue about that too much. Pevs was definitely the “steal of the year” last season in just about everyone’s book!

fes

November 30th, 2009
4:08 pm

you also left out that bogosian leads all defensemen with 8 goals.

Smoothie

November 30th, 2009
4:15 pm

Speaking of Bogosian, you can check out my Bogo goal counter, among other silly things, at my blog:

http://thrashingbirds.blogspot.com/

Unlike our pal C-Viv, I’ve got a little more time to do a preview of tonite’s game…ENJOY!! I welcome your comments and you don’t need to register.

The Earl of Bud

November 30th, 2009
4:56 pm

Diego – while that would be nice, anyone who thinks Kane can beat out Tavares let alone JvR has blueland colored glasses. Kane will be good but even d-men like Del Zotto and Myers are scoring as much as him. He will be way better than those d-men, I just like to print their names because they were taken multiple spots later after the Leafs took Luke Schenn :)

fes – hat tip, I am embarrassed because I see that stat in our fantasy league all the time. How I picked up Kane’s stat ahead of that I have no idea.

Dray from Calgary

November 30th, 2009
7:24 pm

EOB- With Valibek as you already know this call up will show his development and deficiencies. One thing to note is Florida had reclaimed MacIntyre and brought back up from Rochester.Have you seen him at work? I can’t say whether he can play hockey considering he plays 2 minutes a game but this guy is a beast and I’d guess for those 2 minutes he’ll be looking for Valibek. I saw McGrattan get the better of him but he had to be strategic and strong. With 2 games this week against against Florida this week it’s going to be interesting.
I was busy working and playing the last few days. We were the host city for your version of the Super Bowl, the Grey Cup. Looks like everyone has been keeping you busy.