Updates: Lehtonen back in, Valabik out

Your Monday morning Thrashers practice report:

UPDATE:

* Kari Lehtonen was back at practice and got a lot of work. He says he is NHL ready. Coach John Anderson said there is no timetable for him to get into a game. He will make the three-game road trip.

*The extent of Boris Valabik’s knee injury is not known. They are waiting a few more days to let the swelling go down to determine the next step. The initial thought is he tore the ACL.

*There are no plans to recall anyone from AHL. They will play with the six defenseman. Christoph Schubert’s return is not imminent. He hasn’t begun skating yet, although was walking around the locker room today without a limp.

Team is back to three goaltenders. Kari Lehtonen is back from his conditioning stint at AHL Chicago and working with assistant coach Steve Weeks along side Johan Hedberg and Ondrej Pavelec.

Newcomers Johnny Oduya and Niclas Bergfors are on the ice for their first practice as  Thrashers.

Boris Valabik is not on the ice. He hurt his leg Friday against Washington. I see from some bloggers have posted that GM Don Waddell said the injury is to his ACL. I will report following practice.

Here are the line combinations:

Blue: Bergfors-Antropov-Little

Gray: White-Peverley-Afinogenov

Orange: Kane-Slater-Armstrong

Red: Boulton-Reasoner-Thorburn/Kozlov

I’ll get this posted and come back after interviews and update.

71 comments Add your comment

whaler8888

February 8th, 2010
10:13 am

Sure looks like Koslov is the odd man. Wonder if he would waive no trade clause

Mike

February 8th, 2010
10:19 am

I think the Thrashers should look to trade Kozlov to a contender. Don’t care too much what we get for him, he has been a class individual and deserves another chance at a cup. I’m sure there are a few teams he would go to for a run at the cup. Maybe a second round pick?

pop

February 8th, 2010
10:37 am

guarantee – letemin will still give up at least 3 goals per game, and this team can’t score 4 goals on a regular basis, even with kovy

kracker

February 8th, 2010
11:02 am

Chris, I realize it’s just the initial practice since the trade but what line was Bergfors on w/ the Devils and for how many minutes? He looks to have great skill, so getting heavy top 6 minutes here should really motivate him, much like coming here did for Pevs last season.

Oduya is already an established d-man but the loss of Boris could result in him getting more minutes as well.

chief of smoke

February 8th, 2010
11:14 am

There is no Market for Kozlov. He is having a hard time breaking into our lineup. I think we have until the end of the year

Brendan

February 8th, 2010
11:17 am

If a trade could be worked out with a contender, I’d say Kozlov would waive his NTC. How about it, Don Waddell. Can you make Slava Kozlov a San Jose Shark, and reunite him with Heatley? I’m sure the Sharks would like to have a shootout specialist among their ranks, moving forward.

Smoothie

February 8th, 2010
11:18 am

kracker – I’m pretty sure Bergfors started the season getting Top 6 minutes in Jersey due to injuries and such to players like Elias and Rolston. He benefited greatly getting PP time as well with 8 of his 13 goals on the PP. Apparently, his minutes were cut back from 16-17 / game down to 12-13 / gm over the last month or so. Just like Kane, I think Bergfors hit a bit of a wall, got put on the 3rd line for a “change of scenery” and then the return of certain veterans made it impossible to get back into the Top 6. I reckon “Nicky” is very motivated as he knows he has the skill to be in the Top 6 and now’s his chace to prove it to a team that really needs him.

BTW, what the hell more does Kaner have to do to get some consideration on the PP? I’d much rather have him roaming the crease and endline than Todd White. His hands are too good to be wasted; I bet he’d be good for a few stick-backs that the slower and more plodding Antropov can’t seem to get to. I’d rather have Antro on the half-wall left circle over Kozlov with Bergie and Kaner getting more of the PP mins that were going to Whitey and Kozzy. Just my .02.

StateBird

February 8th, 2010
11:32 am

I generally like JA but I lose more and more confidence everytime I see White on the ice. Like Smoothie said I can’t find or even imagine any reason why White would be on the PP over Kane (or others for that matter). I also don’t see what White adds vs. Kozlov. At least Kozlov can help out in the shootout. We already lost 1 point in a shootout that Kozlov sat out (and which White missed miserably with a chance to win it).

Dwayne

February 8th, 2010
11:35 am

Hey Pop, what is Opie and Johan GAA….that is what I thought.

kracker

February 8th, 2010
11:42 am

Nice points, Smoothie! I like Bergfors even more knowing he’s already had top 6 minutes on a top team. It’s not all his fault the Devils tanked for the last month. Ya know, for him, Kane, Bogo…heck, pretty much everybody on this team not going can benefit from the O break, whether it’s the young guys dealing with the long NHL season, anyone needing to rest and heal and everybody needs to mentally recharge after the Kovalchuk tank job for the last two months. Seems clear (at least for my part) that Kovy decided in early Dec. he was leaving and his play reflected that and the team play followed. After all, he was the leader for good or ill.

ChippersLoveChild

February 8th, 2010
11:49 am

Kozzie was doing a good job playing with Pevs and Max.. leave them as is and get rid of White.

Zoomo

February 8th, 2010
11:58 am

>>I’d much rather have him roaming the crease and endline than Todd >>White
Amen, brother!

Smoothie

February 8th, 2010
12:03 pm

kracker! – I couldn’t agree more! If we can just figure out a way to steal two wins on the road this week (perhaps the pissed-off and chip-on-the-shoulder emotions exhibited Sat nite will carry us), then perhaps March will have a lot of promise with key players (young and old) getting much needed rest, most notably, MOOOOOOSE! No doubt Kovy’s lack of commitment was killing the spirit of this team. Perhaps not having a captain in name will be better for them as they all will try to lead by example instead.

rob

February 8th, 2010
12:03 pm

Smoothie,
I asked about getting Kane up there to silence before. Great idea I think. White/Kozlov were benched for a reason, and they haven’t exactly come back strong yet are still rewarded on PP. Only thing I can see as excuse for no Kane is the dam refs are giving him ZERO love right now and JA is afraid they would do it while we are on PP and mess up the man advantage. But now with 2 young guys in Bergfors too, I think it would be a mistake not to expose them to the PP while we have a vet like Kozlov who, while maybe not on top of his game, still has the level head for those type situations. And without Kovy maybe a little bit of that magic will come back to him instead of just sliding left looking for the pass to him??

Smoothie

February 8th, 2010
12:28 pm

rob – agreed. It’s time for the young guys to carry the load. I don’t mind if Kozlov plays some Top 6 minutes every 3rd game or so, because he is such an effective passer when he’s playing well, but he should not be blocking Kane at this point. But White just doesn’t seem to have any chemistry with anyone on the team.

The only way this team is going to do anything going forward is if the young players are given the chance to prove they are ready to carry the load. Look what it has done for Colorado. I know players like Stastny and Wojtek have had more time playing key minutes, but it has to start somewhere, right!? Kane, Little, Bergie, Antro, Pevs and Finny should be our Top 6. Move Reasy to the 3rd line to play with Army and Slater. Let White play 4th line C and rotate Kozzy and Boulton depending.

We have yet to see Kane play with Pevs and Finny. That line could be quite devastatingly fast and effective. Of course, they could also be a defensive nightmare if not on the same page. But Kane’s work ethic seems to be contagious and Finny has shown the willingess to work hard in the corners and get after loose pucks. If we can just convince him to stop making dangerous passes at the offensive blueline!

kracker

February 8th, 2010
12:33 pm

That’s possibly a good point about Kane being a liability on the PP because he’s a rookie power fwd Rob but that’s not at all clear. It doesn’t help, though, that Kane is laboring as 4th overall here in Atl where negative perceptions of this city as a hockey town by many, including the refs, has to hurt the kid’s game, call wise. Kane plays more of a power game than Tavares or Duchene and I bet he ticks off a lot of vets for going at them so hard.

stendec

February 8th, 2010
12:34 pm

Was on a natural high after Saints beat arrogant Colts in Super Bowl. Then I read this shet! So much for that feel good frame of mind. One cancer is eradicated (Ilya Kovalchuk) only to have another resurface (Kari Lehtonen)! I am beyond being disgusted and nauseated. Liked Thrasher playoff prospects. Now believe they are shot to Hell! Well, all you damn apologists got what you wanted. Sori Letemin? Sori Letemin! Tell the new guys they should have remained in New Jersey. The Atlanta hockey club only has one legitimate NHL caliber goaltender! It damn sure is not that untalented LaLa Land quitter from Finland. Enjoy the four and five goal nights apologists! You have damn sure been clamoring for them! ++STENDEC++

Michael B. Shapiro

February 8th, 2010
12:36 pm

Only want to keep Kozzy if he suddenly remembers how to shoot. He’s KILLING our PP.

jared

February 8th, 2010
12:48 pm

One cancer is eradicated (Ilya Kovalchuk) only to have another resurface (Kari Lehtonen)! I am beyond being disgusted and nauseated

stendec i completly agree.
also you make my day whenever you post

Russian

February 8th, 2010
12:53 pm

Let’ Kari plays all 3 Games. It will be great test for him. We have all benefits after the 3 games. We will see if:
1. Kari can play
2. Kari can win and move us to right Direction
3. Kari has a something to Bargin.
Right now we have nothing, we have goalie who did not play a single game on this season. What will Don ask for him? Let Kari play.

kracker

February 8th, 2010
12:58 pm

Oh, Re the blog topic: Kari has to play and get his post-surgery shot to show if he is healthy and in shape, be it for earning the job here or for upping his value as a part of a trade. Me, I believe a healthy, motivated Lehtonen is by far our best option in goal for making the playoffs and advancing in them. DW’s words regardless, I can’t imagine that our younger, new(er) guys are down on Kari because they haven’t played w/ him throughout the years. Let me stress: I want a healthy and motivated Lehtonen. His talent level is far superior, it’s just that he has to play a more consistent game. Which is pretty much what all goalies have to learn in the NHL. Lots of them are hot for two months, then it just goes away.

Whatever you think of Lehtonen, surely even this organization won’t be so classless at to put Lehts through two surgeries and then discard him w/o giving him a chance this season. I’d be quite concerned about losing our most talented goalie, especially if he is not adequately tested after the corrective surgeries. Much more concerned than trading Kovalchuk, who wanted to be gone.

Jack

February 8th, 2010
12:59 pm

What is the latest on a Kari trade, it was hinted tht it could come soon or least that was a rumor.

David

February 8th, 2010
1:20 pm

Stendec…why do you even bother posting? You post every time chris blogs and everytime all you do is bitch and moan. Stop wasting space on the comments section with your useless gibberish. If you want to talk hockey, then talk hockey. If you want to trash on players, go back to middle school and grow up.

As far as hockey goes, I think Kane would be a great addition to the powerplay down low, maybe on the second unit to start out with. Hopefully in the offseason he can bulk up a little and take up some space around the net a little more effectively. In the meantime, Antropov still looks like the best bet in that role.

To me, the ideal PP units would look like this…

Enstrom, Kubina on the points in the first unit…..max, antropov and peverley

Second unity…Enstrom and Bogo on the point with kane, little and bergfors

I know i’m probably a little weird in that I dont like Kozlov on the PP, but he is simply too indecisive. pass, or shoot….dont waste time or lose the puck.

stendec

February 8th, 2010
1:33 pm

Wonder how long it will be before we are treated to a goal allowed from behind the opposition net by Sori Letemin? Sort of the kind that ended the Wolves winning streak! Know they loved this loser in Chicago. Flew out of the Windy City just ahead of a quickly closing necktie party. Next time they will decline his reassignment! Now the oft injured glass groin wonder is back to bedazzle us with his inability to stop a puck. Oh goody! ++STENDEC++

sisu

February 8th, 2010
1:39 pm

on a side note: GAINEY STEPPING DOWN AS GENERAL MANAGER OF CANADIENS

http://tsn.ca/nhl/story/?id=309444

stendec

February 8th, 2010
1:48 pm

Hey David. Dropen zee dead! I have preached for years that Ilya Kovalchuk was hurting the TEAM with his selfish me-me-me play! Idiots like you failed to heed my warning. Spare be the bullshet about him being a premiere player! If that guy in Washington was fed by his teammates the way IK was he would have twice as many goals and assists. How many playoffs did our star propel the team to? One? Uh huh! Kari Lehtonen is a lazy cancer who is just as much harm to my team. Teammates have no damn confidence in him! I know this for a fact. The Finn may make several spectacular saves per start. It is the marshmallows he allows which concern me and damn sure should concern you. That long range goal he whiffed on with the Wolves was the norm not the exception! No concentration. Period! A goaltender must be mentally focused and sharp constantly whether he faces two shots or 52. Even you should agree with that! A healthy Johan Moose Hedberg can lead a playoff charge in perhaps his final hurrah. Sori Letemin will never attain NHL caliber status. A trade would rid team of all cancers! Sorry that fact of life gets you hot under the collar. ++STENDEC++

J(Z)

February 8th, 2010
1:51 pm

This is a pretty awesome site to show line combo’s for any player or any team, I’m sure I’ll mess up the linking

http://www.dobberhockey.com/frozenpool_linecombo.php?selForward=N.JBERGFORS%2CNICKLAS&situation=ALL&period=ALL&games=2009-2010%3AR%3A10&Submit=Show+Line+Combinations&sent=go

Looks like recently (last 10 games), Bergfors had been paired with Rolston & McAmmond or McAmmond & Zharkov. Over the course of the full season, he’s been mostly paired with Parise & Zajac though

Rogie

February 8th, 2010
2:07 pm

I don’t think the Thrashers are in seller’s mode per se since they are in the middle of the pack on the playoff bubble. Thus, trading Kozlov would not be for draft picks or prospects but something of equivalent value to use during the playoff run. I don’t see it happening unless he’s packaged with Lehtonen and we get a depth player — say a defenseman — in return. He’s still valuable on the power play and in shootouts. The first game he was benched he was sorely missed in the shootout….might have been the difference in another point in the standings.

kracker

February 8th, 2010
2:24 pm

WOW!!! Sweet link, J(Z)! You can also isolate the PP, PK and even selected periods for the desired player.

–bookmarked–

Bob

February 8th, 2010
2:27 pm

kracker, I agree with you Lehtonen being our best chance and that they have to get him back in there to see if he can return to form and get hot and carry this club to the playoffs. Pavelec isn’t going to get us there, Moose might, but you have to get Lehtonen in there.

Now that said, I think they have already cut ties mentally with Lehtonen. Waddell’s comments are very telling and he doesn’t even mention Lehtonen anymore unless it’s derogatory. I don’t think they’ll even let him play a game for us, which is foolish, in my opinion.

kracker

February 8th, 2010
2:36 pm

I think you’re right, Rogie! A team may be able to win their final three games of the season and move from 10th to 6th in the muddled and weak East.

hehe, not really but it probably will be very tight right thru March. Winning games = playoffs!

kracker

February 8th, 2010
2:47 pm

Yep, it seems clear to the outside observer, bob, which is me and I guess you, too, that Lehts is the most talented goalie. However, I don’t know if he’s put behind him his late-night clubbing habit or if, perhaps, he has a level of immaturity that’s not suited to performing at 100% effort for every NHL game. It’s been said that the junior level, Kari was so much better than the shooters that winning came easy for him, maybe too easy.

stendec

February 8th, 2010
2:48 pm

man im a tool

Smoothie

February 8th, 2010
3:05 pm

Chris, can we get some quotes from the new guys? Would be interesting to get their feelings on the events of the last 72 hours. Quite the whirlwind for them. Plus, it would be nice to get their take on the warm crowd reception Sat night. Thanks!

hotrod

February 8th, 2010
3:43 pm

Thats what real hockey clubs do:
Take Montreal – if you are .500 and 6th in the standings you are out as GM.

Thats the owners being owners and holding the GM accountable.
Take note Spirit , thats how its done in the real world.

J.B.

February 8th, 2010
3:47 pm

going under the assumption we’ll be buyers at the deadline, I’d like to know who else DW and RD are looking at trading for, Chris.

stendec

February 8th, 2010
3:57 pm

*&^%$ me *%$#* I @%$#^&
++stendec++

brett

February 8th, 2010
3:59 pm

This afternoon Bergfors was on NHL Live with EJ Hradek and discussed the travel situation from DC to Atlanta. He aslo kept saying, “it is what it is”, concerning the trade. He didn’t seem real thrilled about the trade. EJ and Deb didn’t have him on long. I would suspect it was because he was a painful interview. He did’t have a whole lot to say! It was like pulling teeth to get an answer out of him!

hotrod

February 8th, 2010
4:08 pm

“It is what it is”

Translation:

I have been traded from a consistant playoff contender to a team
with a front office that could not give a crap.

brett

February 8th, 2010
4:12 pm

You said it hotrod!!!

Jack

February 8th, 2010
4:20 pm

AMEN!!!! He maybe suicidal now that the spirit owns him

Devilsfan80

February 8th, 2010
5:00 pm

Even when Bergie was in NJ he really didn’t have much to say. Maybe he lacks confidence with his english?

Brendan

February 8th, 2010
5:10 pm

Brett, how does one tactfully say, “I just left an organization with 3 recent Cups, poised for a 4th, to come to one that can’t figure out it needs a new GM, after a decade of failure?” Think about it. No think HARDER.

Okay, so … goaltenders. My take? Gotta trade the Moose. I know. I know. I like ‘im, too. He’s one of my favorite Thrashers, and is a battler to the very end. But his trade value will never be higher. And I’m not ready to quit on 22-year old Pavelec. He’ll have a fine future, once a goalie coach is brought in for him. As for Kari, I think he’s still technically the organization’s #1 netminder, but if Waddell’s comments matter any, he’s looking to dish ‘im. And folks, he might move them both (Hedbert and Lehtonen). There are goalies out there … that can be brought in. Biron? Rolosson? You just never know.

Look at the situation in Montreal. After a series of miscalculations, perhaps the worst of which was hanging the fate of the franchise, when it was the #1 seed in the East in 2008, on rookie goaltender Carey Price, Bob Gainey is out. Gainey decided to move netminder Cristobal Huet to Washington for a 2nd round pick at the 2008 deadline … when he should have kept him. They still have Jaroslav Halak, though. And if they ultimately decide to make Halak the #1 keeper, what does that do to Carey Price? Is this where Waddell comes in? And what about Halak? He’s not terrible, either.

The thing, to me, about Kari Lehtonen is this. He was a former 2nd overall pick. J.S. Giguere was 28 years old … before he showed so much as a “spark” of ability. Goaltenders mature at the rate they do. Is Kari immature? Well, frankly, the signs point to “yes.” But that doesn’t mean he cannot become a star goalie, if healthy, at some point. If Waddell is thinking, “Yeah, but I can’t waste anymore time than I already have waiting for him,” he’s got to make a move. At least, ON PAPER, Lehtonen for Price looks comparable, since Price was a 5th overall pick. Read: High-end, first rounder.

Of course, ladies and gentlemen, Montreal might laugh hysterically at the mere suggestion that Carey Price might be on the move. And they might be right to laugh, in that regard. But right about now, Montreal seems desperate. An “icon” in their midst (Gainey, multiple-time Stanley Cup winner, 4-time Selke Trophy winner, perennial all-star, and Hall of Famer) has just stepped down or been “quired.” (Quit/Fired = quired) Tanguay, acquired via trade with Calgary, along with Montreal’s 5th round pick, didn’t work out. The Habs coughed up their 1st round draft pick to the Flames, #25 overall, who turned out to be a sniper prospect name Greg Nemisz. Montreal had 10 pending UFA’s last season when they snuck into the playoffs at #8 seed, and they let them all walk, including Kovalev. Christopher Higgins, along w/3 other players, got traded to the NY Rangers in the offseason for Scott Gomez’ monstrous contract and Tom Pyatt. On June 1, 2009, GM Bob Gainey felt that Jacques Martin would be a good choice as Head Coach. As you know, and in case you didn’t know, naming a Head Coach is the MOST IMPORTANT THING a GM does. Was Jacques Martin the best choice out there???? Beeeeee honest. Yep, that’s why he’s not the GM of the Montreal Canadiens anymore.

Did it help Montreal that Gainey’s other offseason moves included overpaying for Mike Cammalleri (Calgary castoff), Jaroslav Spacek (Buffalo castoff), Brian Gionta (NJ castoff), and Hal Gill (Pittsburgh castoff)? They also acquired D-man Paul Mara and LW Travis Moen in free agency. They re-signed Guillaume Latendresse, but then they traded him! I think he’s in Minnesota, now. At least Gainey had the good sense to re-up Tomas Plekanec.

Enough of that. This is an interesting call with Kari Lehtonen. Trade him or keep him? He’s a pending RFA, so … he can’t walk for nothing. Atlanta still controls his rights, not that I think some RFA offersheet might be coming for him. Pavelec is not ready now. Not really. But why throw him away, at the tender age of 22, in some pointless trade? But if Kari Lehtonen has GOT TO GO, then the return had better more than a “song and dance.”

Brett

February 8th, 2010
6:04 pm

Brendan thanks for the help! I was racking my brain trying to figure it out. I’m thankful that we have individuals, such as yourself, that so knowledgeable and on point. Thank you!!!

Brendan

February 8th, 2010
6:26 pm

Brett, I can’t take credit. You sussed it out, all on your own. So, the issue now is … how does the organization go about “energizing” Bergfors, a pending RFA, to re-sign here in Atlanta? If he wants out … he could try avenues like arbitration or simply playing in Europe until he reaches the age of UFA status.

Alan R.

February 8th, 2010
7:58 pm

But if Kari Lehtonen has GOT TO GO, then the return had better more than a “song and dance.”

This is a buyer’s market. We’ll be lucky to get a prospect and a 4th round pick for him, unless we find a desperate team looking for a dramatic change.

Yung JB from MTL

February 8th, 2010
8:47 pm

You know what I mmiss about Kovy.. How he could whoop a$$.

Anyway

About Kari, i dont know really. Moose really makes it difficult by being the best, bigger hearted player on the team.. I guess we should keep him, he might have this year, next year and another to his career..

While Pavelec is to keep, Leth-em-in should be kept since hes still young.

Who should be moved you ask?

Todd White

Brendan

February 8th, 2010
9:36 pm

This Devils-Flyers game has been a dandy! Anyone else watching it?

Yung JB from MTL

February 8th, 2010
9:39 pm

yeahhhh baby TSN (here in canada)
kovalchuk missed the two last shots to assure a devils’ loss :)

Brendan

February 8th, 2010
9:54 pm

He sure did, Yung JB from MTL. He had a plethora of chances over the final four minutes.