Here is the transcript on an interview I did with Thrashers general manager Don Waddell Monday about the NHL trade deadline at 3 p.m. on Wednesday. The interview came prior to Monday night’s acquisition of Anaheim forward Evgeny Artyukhin for AHL defenseman Nathan Oystrick and a 2011 conditional draft pick
Q. Is your phone ringing? Or are you making phone calls?
A. It’s a combination.
Q. Is a major deal likely?
A. I can’t say that. There are so many teams that are still in [the playoff race]. So the amount of players being shopped is pretty limited. It works kind of the opposite way. When you have limited players, the values go up quite high. Right now, I can’t say whether we will do something or not. Certainly we will pursue every angle and see if there is something out there. Remember we made trades prior to every one else (Ilya Kovalchuk, Kari Lehtonen). The changes that we’ve made, I think, have been very positive for our hockey team. You want to make sure you don’t mess up the chemistry of your team either.
Q. Would you categorize yourself as a buyer or a seller?
A. More a buyer than a seller.
Q. What areas are you looking to improve?
A. If we could add a little size up front that would be my wish list. You’d like to get a little bigger. I like our skill level but with a lot of our guys, [Bryan] Little, [Niclas] Bergfors, [Rich] Peverley we are not real big up front there. If we could add some size up that would be a wish.
Q. Are you trying to find someone to pick up some of the scoring with Kovalchuk gone?
A. That’s your home run, if you ever did that. I have a list of players that are available and I’ve talked to about 15 teams, there are not a lot of them out there. There are just not that many teams that are out of it. There is just not a lot. … We like our team and we are not going to overpay drastically to fit a square peg into a round hole and pay for it later.
Q. How much do you worry about chemistry?
A. You’ve got to make sure you know the person you are bringing in. If you are going to bring in another player or two, there are two phases: 1. Bring in good people that you feel will fit in your [locker] room. 2. What are you subtracting from your locker room? You want to be careful that way too. It could be a double whammy. If you subtract the wrong piece of the puzzle and add somebody that doesn’t fit in, it could work against you. That’s why you’ve got to be very careful this time of year.
Q. Are your unrestricted free agents the most coveted by other teams?
A. Those are the guys that you get phone calls about, but I can tell you that we are not just looking to sell off players. We have the one exception we are dealing with with the [Slava] Kozlov situation, which is much different than any of our other unrestricted players. If there are hockey trades out there to make, we are certainly going to look at them. If you are asking if we are going to trade Pavel Kubina for a second-round pick, like all these people are speculating, that’s not going to happen.
Q. If your two trades you have accumulated “chips” in prospects and draft picks. Do you use them now or during the offseason?
A. If you are doing anything now you are trying to help yourself finish as strong as you can this year. In the summer, it’s a different tool because you are looking at something long term. If you are looking to add someone now, it’s how gives us the best chance to get where we want to go and that’s the playoffs. Now you might be trading for a guy that’s unrestricted at the end of the year for that short term. It’s two different mindsets.
Q. Any movement trying to trade Kozlov?
A. I’ve had a few conversations with a few teams, but nothing really new. A couple of teams I have reached out to. People know he’s available now, thanks to the media.
Q. With Kozlov, is it as much about you trying to grant his wish for what he’s done for the organization?
A. Yes. The asset value back is minimal versus how much he’s done for this franchise. If I can find him a home, I’m happy to do it.
Q. How likely is it that you will be able to trade him?
A. I don’t know. It’s too early to say. I’ve had some feelers, but now much more than that.