Lehtonen returns from AHL Chicago

The Thrashers recalled goaltender Kari Lehtonen from his two-week conditioning stint at AHL Chicago on Sunday.

Lehtonen made his final start on Friday night, losing in a shootout after stopping 17-of-19 shots in regulation and 6-of-9 in the shootout. In all, Lehtonen appeared in four games, going 1-1-2. He allowed 11 goals on 109 shots for a .899 save percentage and 2.67 goals-against average.

I will see what the plan is at Monday’s practice.

Also, it appears the Boris Valabik’s injury, suffered to his left leg on Friday night, will cost him some games. The team did not have an official word following the game. I saw Boris in the hallway after the game and asked if he was OK. He was on the phone, but shook his head no.

I will see what the word is on Monday.

If anyone is interested I can blog about the adventures of covering the Ilya Kovalchuk trade and then getting back from Washington D.C. I did see former beat writer Mike Knobler (funny story about eating at an Ethopian restaurant). He’s doing rather well at Georgetown law school.

I’m going to take the rest of the day off. Hope you all can do the same!

28 comments Add your comment

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Fozzie

February 7th, 2010
1:23 pm

Thanks for the update — and YES, I’d love to hear about your adventures covering the IK trade and the rest. I’d imagine there are some interesting nuggets you could share.

Chris Vivlamore

February 7th, 2010
2:00 pm

Fozzie: Deal. I’ll blog from practice Monday morning and then post another in the afternoon with the travails.

Also, there is a picture of Kovalchuk with his flag that was to go with the Olympic photos and memories package if anyone’s is interested.

MB

February 7th, 2010
2:04 pm

I’m sure that Kari will enjoy hearing Waddell’s comments shared in the THM (according to bloggers over at Ice Man) that the team doesn’t have confidence in him. I have no idea why the GM of a hockey team would say such a thing regardless of whether he’s planning to keep the player or trade him. Then again, I have no idea why Don does many things.

Curly

February 7th, 2010
2:05 pm

Waddell stated that Valabik injured his ACL. I think he will be out for the rest of the season.

Kari will be gone by the trade deadline.

Brendan

February 7th, 2010
2:28 pm

Curly, I disagree. I don’t think other GM want to take the chance on Kari, unless we’re willing to simply “give him away.” And well, I can’t advocate doing that. What if he comes back fine, from injury? Might as well keep him. Especially if the only thing a team will give us is some player in Juniors or the NCAA, with limited upside, and a 4th round pick. If that’s what’s being offered, hang on to Kari, hope he does well, then trade him at the Draft, if a trade must be done. Kari is a pending RFA. Another GM will like that. It means he’d control Kari’s rights.

J (Z)

February 7th, 2010
2:33 pm

Anyone watching this unreal Pens-Craps game and getting depressed? Both these teams finished dead last in the NHL recently, and I’d be willing to bet we’re looking the soon to be last two cup winners in this game. Ughh, we’d never be able to put a team like this on the ice!

Mike

February 7th, 2010
3:18 pm

I hate to hear that Boris is hurt and if it a major injury to the ACL, you will have to think he is gone for the year. So..let’s say he is put on the IR…leaves us with Enstrom-Kubina, Hainsey-Oyu, Bogo-Pops. I say bring up Kulda for the rest of the year. Time to see what he has at the NHL level.
We also seem to be developing some good depth at D. Seeing that, looks like trading Kubina may be the best thing to do, even though I would hate to see him go. You will have Enstrom, Oyu, Hainsey, Boris, Bogo and Kulda on the team next year. Plus, Pops and Oystrick as depth, so you might as well get something for him before he becomes a FA. What do you guys think?

Sherry Taylor

February 7th, 2010
3:27 pm

If they trade Kubina, who has been one of the bright spots on defense this year, and keep whoever this Kulda is and Popovich, I will stop watching. Kubina has been an incredible leader on the ice for both defense and offense. He sees the play not just the puck and for once we have a defender we can rely on. Oystrick isn’t ready to be in the line up full time either.
With just four games played and a record of 1-1-2, Kari doesn’t seem, on paper anyway, to be ready for the ‘big boys’. This is not the time in the season to bring in a player who has been out all season and is still iffy. But, it wouldn’t be the first time our illustrious GM has made a less than stellar call.

Thrasher Blue

February 7th, 2010
3:38 pm

Sherry – I agree on Kubina. I would like to see his contract extended for 2 years and name him captain.

Mike

February 7th, 2010
4:21 pm

Don’t get me wrong, I too would like to keep Kubina, but sometimes you have to take emotions out of it and trade players when they have the most value. If you don’t know who Kulda is, read up on him as he part of our future on defense. He is +33 down in Chicago and has 15 points on the season so far. There is also Paul Potsma on defense, but he is probably at least another year away. We can keep Kubina, but that would mean the end of Pops, Schubert, Oystrick and any other young guys coming up.

BlueSpark

February 7th, 2010
5:28 pm

Mike – I smell what you stepped in. I’m right there with you; Kubina has been good, but he is not young and not part of the team’s future. Trade him when he has value. Isn’t he a UFA at the end of the year?

Dwayne

February 7th, 2010
5:39 pm

If the Thrashers are out of the playoff hunt by the trade deadline, trade Kubina…but where in the standings, in the weak east, are you considered “out” of the playoffs. ah-ha…

kracker

February 7th, 2010
5:50 pm

Difficult call on Kubina. For me, it hinges on 1( does he still want to be here now that Kovalchuk has voluntarily exited? and 2) do we have replacement players to keep the d-core as good or better if Kubes is traded, including a possible return player in a trade? And I guess a 3) would be what salary & term would he command?

Chris, Isn’t Oduya a member of the Swedish Olympic team along with Tobias? Or am I wrong there? He is not included in the hardcopy or online article about our Olympic Thrashers. I know he’s a new addition but it’s been a few days since the trade. Let’s get it right, please.

Brendan

February 7th, 2010
5:51 pm

Mike and Blue Spark, you are both correct. Pavel Kubina, though arguably a team MVP this year, is a pending UFA, who is 32 years old, and blocking prospects from the big club. It’d be one thing, if Kubina were willing to re-sign a 1-year deal. Or even a 2-year deal, at a “fair price.” But I honestly cannot tell you what Kubina’s intentions are.

I’ll tell you this, though. It’d be “nice” if he said, “Don, I’d really like to stay.” That’d be refreshing to hear. But if Kubina, who is in the final year of a 5-year deal he signed with Toronto, has no desire to play here next season, he simply must be moved. He’ll bring a decent return. We’re talking about a 2nd round pick, here. It’s worth doing.

Same deal with Colby Armstrong. If he isn’t interested in staying, he’s got to be dealt. If Max doesn’t want to stay, he should be dealt, too. If Slava Kozlov would waive his NTC, that could get interesting, in terms of a return. Boulton, Slater and Thorburn won’t get takers, so … they stay until the end of the year. And, above all, Moose’s trade value will never be higher. So, even though I love him as one of my favorite Thrashers, he’s got to be traded, also.

Let’s see what Waddell and Dudley do. They have a serious opportunity here to reshape this club, moving forward. The thing is … it’s hard to be in “firesale mode” while you are also chasing a playoff berth. And to miss the playoffs, but not move Kovalchuk (done), Kubina (we’ll see), Armstrong (probably will be moved), Max (we’ll see), and Moose (getting traded soon), would mark some real missed opportunities for the future.

In 2007, the Philadelphia Flyers finished with 56-points, ladies and gentlemen. That was good enough for LAST PLACE in the NHL. And they didn’t even win the lottery draft; they wound up picking 2nd overall, with James vanRiemsdyk. GM Paul Holmgren had a mess on his hands. But in a series of brilliant calculated moves, his Flyers improved by 20 wins and 39 points for a 95-point finish in 2008. It was good enough for sixth seed in the playoff field. That year the Flyers went to the Conference Finals.

Any and all of this … is indisputed truth … and can be verified with some Google searches. It shows you what it possible under a salary cap. There was Philly, DEAD LAST in 2007, in the Conference Finals vs. Pittsburgh in 2008. I’m not saying that Atlanta can turn it around in that fashion. But I’m saying … why not let a GM not named Waddell take his shot at it? It’s just an idea.

Darkhorse

February 7th, 2010
6:20 pm

kracker-I’m totally with you on the Kubina situation. Love the guys heart and skill, but does he want to remain here, would he resign for less than the 5mil per he makes now for maybe 2 years, and are the offers from teams at the deadline for him going to be too good to pass up? DW and Dudley need to make sure those things are figured out before the end of the Olympic break.

I see Kari being part of a package of a few of our UFAs, and maybe Todd White or a prospect/pick, in a trade deadline deal.

Sun

February 7th, 2010
6:41 pm

I’d definitely be interested in hearing details of the trade!! Thanks, Chris.

rob

February 7th, 2010
7:01 pm

Hmmmm, I have to wonder with this talk of trading Kari. A serious team needs both a solid D and goaltending. That is the ONLY way to progress into the realm of serious playoff hockey. Pavs is not the way. He has A LOT of work to do before/if he makes it to a starting goalie role. Moose….love him, but as said before, at the deadline, with playoffs looming, he will get a good return for the kind of player we may need in a package. Ride Kari and Pavs the rest of the season and fight it out at camp. And while you’re at it that is when to find the next C. Spin it around a few guys the remainder of the year and give them a feel for it so they are hungry at camp next year.

Jameson

February 7th, 2010
7:12 pm

Has any one else ever noticed how Waddell’s definition of a second line center is closer to what most people think of as a third or fourth line center?

“…ideal for a second-line center because he plays both ends of the ice very well. He’s a hard-nosed player, He plays hard as we know, unfortunately suspended right now…”

Is it just me, or does that sound more like Jimmy Slater and Marty Reasoner than Joe Thornton or Mark Savard?

Lee

February 7th, 2010
7:16 pm

Nice update, how ’bout schubert though? He ok?

Jameson

February 7th, 2010
7:25 pm

Sorry, I should’ve made the comparison to Marleau and Bergeron

Mike

February 7th, 2010
9:07 pm

I would like to see Coby stay. He has stepped up his game over the last week or so and I think a little has to do with him probably feeling like the Thrashers will now talk to him about an extension since the Kovy mess is over.

I doubt Kubina will take a big cut in pay to stay as he is getting up there and wants to max his pay over the last few seasons he has left. Don’t forget Kulda has had a year of playing with Chris Chelios. Hard to argue there is anyone better he could learn from.

On the goaltender situation, I say you play Moose until the break. Then during the break you see how conditioned Kari is and make a trade decision after that point. I personally say you trade Moose for max return (again, taking the emotions out of it) and see what Kari has the rest of the year.If he comes back and is great (like it has been many times when he was healthy) then you have Kari and Pavs for next year. If he isn’t that great, he will still get you more in a trade after he plays games vs. now. If you trade Kari at draft time, you can either bring Moose back or maybe one of the several UFA goalies (Budaj, Toskala, Biron, and the list goes on) to back up Pavs if you feel he is your goalie of the future.

StateBird

February 7th, 2010
11:54 pm

Kari is our lottery ticket. There is no way we make the playoffs without him. There is a 90% chance that we still miss the playoffs with him. However he is the only goalie on our roster that has the raw talent to carry a team over a 6 week period. Granted the odds are against that but I’d like to give him a shot at least through the trade deadline.

But prior to taking that step I would like to see him play with the Wolves through the Olympic break to improve his conditioning and sharpness. His contract may not permit that but, if possible, I would seek his permission to take this action. As it would be in his and the team’s best interest I would likely trade him as soon as possible if he refused.

sisu

February 8th, 2010
8:42 am

After attending the town hall I emailed DW and he said he regretted “throwing Kari under the bus” but that he disagreed about my assessment of our goalies and came short of saying he will move Kari. I got the feeling during the meeting we may not see Kari play at all or at the most a game or two.

The critical part right now is to find out which players want to stay here in the future as has been said in the posts above…

kracker

February 8th, 2010
9:06 am

Not giving the guy that went under the knife twice for the team (at their direction) a chance to earn/win the goalie position would be another classless act by this organization.

I don’t think Pavs/Moose can get it done. Forcing a Kari trade at this moment will discourage me much more than moving Kovalchuk, he wanted out and the team wasn’t functioning with him around. A healthy Lehtonen is by far out best chance to make the playoffs and have any chance of success in them.

Get The Puck Out

February 8th, 2010
9:26 am

I think as i have all along that we will need a starting goalie. Maybe Kari’s healthy, maybe not.His back may be ok now but he has a history of groin problems. He doesn’t have much trade value now so we may have to see if he can stay together better than humpty dumpty. As far as kubina, see if he’s with the program and go from there. I just think, as most of the thrasher breathren is concerned someone besides Teflon Don needs to be pulling these trades. And Brendan is correct in saying this team can contend, but the team will look different as several playes need to be traded. Thank you Shultz for puttig a fire under the feet of the ownership and possibly the GM. Oh yea, Kovy wont get ten million a year, wherever he goes.

Chris Vivlamore

February 8th, 2010
9:50 am

Kracker: Oduya is a member of the Swedish Olympic team, but there was no time to update the Olympic package with his photo with a flag since they were snowed in in Washington. It’s not like I got it wrong. Those were the Thrashers Olympians at the time.

kracker

February 8th, 2010
10:52 am

Thanks, Chris. Yes, the weather didn’t help and it’s easy for me to nitpick, sorry about that. I’m sure you will cover all the guys and teams as the O games progress.